Drifter Turner Lair (the king of the offbeat line-reading, Christopher Walken) turns up unannounced at the home of his elderly father, adult son, and young grandson after a 30-year absence. Michael Caine’s patriarch has a scant 20 minutes of screen time before becoming an object lesson in the dangers of fast food, mysteriously dropping dead at KFC. As a condition of the old man’s will, the remaining three generations of Lairs must—I swear I’m not making this up—travel to various Southwest KFC locations to eat chicken dinners (Turner is a vegetarian) before scattering his ashes. Featuring earnest speechifying, a cloying child performance, and gratingly repetitive theme music, Around the Bend veers deep into male-weepie territory even before the dramatic appearance of one character’s baby picture provokes a climactic father-son confrontation.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 28, 2004