Family Weekend Attempts to Turn Its Clichés Into Parents


Quirky indie hell, thy name is Family Weekend. Benjamin Epps’s film is the very definition of affected cutie-pie whimsy and weirdness, charting the efforts of 16-year-old competitive jump-roper Emily (Olesya Rulin) to turn her parents “normal” by tying them up and putting them through a step-by-step rehabilitation course. The fundamental problem with this absurd plan is that dad Duncan (Matthew Modine) is a New Agey–artist cartoon, and mom Samantha (Kristin Chenoweth) is a cell-phone-obsessed-businesswoman caricature—in other words, grating make-believe characters about as prone to actual human behavior as your average ham sandwich. There’s a dim-witted faux-homosexual older brother who goes by Thor (Eddie Hassell), a younger brother (Robbie Tucker) with a photographic memory, and a sister (Joey King) who likes to playact as Jodie Foster’s child hooker from Taxi Driver and Michael Madsen’s ear-slicer from Reservoir Dogs. With everyone an idiosyncratic type destined to eventually learn the value of familial togetherness and being yourself, there’s no drama, and with “jokes” like Thor proclaiming that his documentary about the abduction proceedings is like “Godard meets Michael Moore,” there’s no humor, either—just the sad, desperate sound of the wacky.