Family is a new comedy film written and directed by Laura Steinel and starring Taylor Schilling. The movie follows a serious work-minded businesswoman whose life is turned upside down when she has to babysit her introverted outcast niece for a week. It debuted at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and played at the 2019 Gasparilla International Film Festival.
The film’s story really isn’t anything new. It is just a double coming-of-age movie. Both the protagonist and her niece must learn to grow up and find their place in society. The film’s ultimate message is that you need to learn how to play well with others. It is a relatively straightforward moral that is delivered in the first thirty minutes of the movie, so the rest ultimately feels redundant.
One of the biggest issues with the film is that the characters aren’t sympathetic enough. By the end of the movie, you will like both leads well enough, but it takes a long time to get there. The protagonist is somewhat annoying, especially towards the beginning of the film. She will definitely get on the nerves of many audience members. Her niece isn’t annoying, but she isn’t super well-written or sympathetic either.
The movie’s humor is rather inconsistent. There are plenty of moments that are hilarious, like those involving the Juggalos and Insane Clown Posse, but other moments don’t exactly land. Some of the more frustrating gags are those which repeat over and over again. These begin to feel truly tiring after a time.
That being said, the film doesn’t have a shortage of heart. Even though the characters may not be the most interesting or sympathetic, their growth is universal and meaningful. The emotional moments feel natural in the movie, which is surprising given that comedies often succumb to forced and contrived emotion.
The film has an absolutely wonderful cast, but unfortunately, they are underused. The only people who get significant screen time are Taylor Schilling and Bryn Vale, and they do a solid job in their roles. The supporting cast includes Brian Tyree Henry, Kate McKinnon, and Matt Walsh, among others. Although some of them have some very funny moments, they don’t have nearly enough screen time.
On a technical level, the movie wasn’t anything special. This was a relatively mainstream comedy, so there wasn’t a ton of flash in anything. However, the sections of the film involving Insane Clown Posse did have some interesting execution, though, with a great color scheme and some really fun production design.
Overall, Family was a mostly average movie. It is good for a few laughs and some touching moments, but otherwise, doesn’t really stand out.
Family played at the 2019 Gasparilla International Film Festival. It opens in theaters on April 19.