Tuesday, May 10, 2016

[Review] The Family Fang

Jason Bateman's directorial debut Bad Words was a profane comedy that came with mixed results. His follow-up, a VOD & limited theater release The Family Fang--is a more assured film. Here, he also stars alongside the likes of Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, and Maryann Plunkett.

Raised in a household of manipulative guerilla performance artists, siblings Annie (Kidman) and Baxter (Bateman) Fang are now slightly scarred and untrusting adults. After Baxter winds up in the hospital by getting shot in the head with a potato gun (yes, really), their estranged parents (played by Walken and Plunkett) come to visit. But when the parents suddenly go missing, Annie and Baxter are tasked with figuring out whether it's real or another elaborate prank.

The premise is as bizarre as it sounds. When we first meet the parents, we immediately begin to understand why Annie and Baxter are a bit... distressed. Christopher Walken is perfectly cast as a deep-thinking smooth-talker who is extremely passionate, deceptive, and also a bit loopy about his head-scratching improv installations and questionable parenting outlooks. Nicole Kidman is solid as she takes the determined leading role in attempting to solve the mystery.

The story wanders around for a while and doesn't actually seem to catalyze until close to the midway point, but it constantly possesses a fitting spirit of strangeness. While the film doesn't nearly seem to achieve the potent tragicomedy tone that it's aiming for, it provides some interesting takes on the lengths, lines, and meanings of art--whether you agree with them or not.

The Family Fang is a film that I wouldn't recommend to everyone, but I couldn't help but intently wonder what the characters were going to end up discovering.


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