The Family Tree

2011

Action / Comedy / Drama

15
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 10%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 26%
IMDb Rating 5.5 10 1687

Synopsis


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December 08, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Director

Cast

Britt Robertson as Kelly Burnett
Madeline Zima as Mitzy Steinbacher
Christina Hendricks as Alicia Bouche
Dermot Mulroney as Jack Burnett
720p.BLU
600.34 MB
1280*720
English
R
23.976 fps
1hr 27 min
P/S 4 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Mickey Z 4 / 10

Slapdash and unfocused but pleasant nonetheless

First off, Christina Hendricks fans: don't waste your time. She's in the film for all of three minutes (long enough for the camera to linger longingly on her chest, of course) and otherwise doesn't have much to do with the plot.

While pleasant enough, this movie comes off as slap-dash and unfocused. It just doesn't know where it wants to go, which story/character it really wants to follow. This is partly the fault of being based on the "dysfunctional family" trope, which works best when we still manage to care/sympathize/identify with at least one of the family members. The problem here is that we can't: the mother's a bitch, the father's an impotent robot, the son's a gun-obsessed Jesus freak (the gun obsession serving only to telegraph the ending), and the awful mother-in-law doesn't actually appear until the very end of the film. Only the fake-slut daughter comes off as somewhat sympathetic, but the film refuses to focus on her character, and she remains somewhat of a stick-figure (figuratively and literally).

The lack of focus comes through from the very beginning: the film starts with a voice-over, of the gun-freak son, but abruptly drops the voice-over, only to revive it again at the very end -- in order to give a film-standard wearily wise "look at how much we've learned" speech that doesn't really work. The voice-over might have worked better if the son had been the central character and the film had been meant to examine his growth -- but he isn't and the film doesn't.

All in all, it appears the director/writer didn't have a clear idea about what movie they were making. The result is a slapdash, unfocused effort.

Still, for all that, the movie was pleasant enough to sit through, with a few funny bits and good performances from the actors. Not something I'd recommend paying for -- wait for it to hit cable.

Reviewed by TheUnknown837-1 4 / 10

A black comedy with a specialty at being repellent and a weakness at being funny or insightful

"The Family Tree" is the hopelessly misleading title of a frighteningly misanthropic would-be comedy that pretends to be a clever, black satire on modern day family values and American culture. But instead of provoking guilty laughs along with sharp insights, the horrifyingly television-esque picture defies its own intentions and produces anger as opposed to wit. And I can only imagine that if anybody can find the kindness in themselves to laugh at it, then they must really be feeling guilty.

Basically, if you are white, black, married, single, religious, anti-religious, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, on drugs, anti-drugs, studious, rebellious, blue-collar, white-collar - a human being, in other words - the picture holds you with the absolute lowest of regard. The movie centers on a family, not a family tree, and their dopey neighbors and associates. It opens with a laughless scene of the family visiting a shrink, then goes to a high school peeping tom climbing into a tree at night, spying into the family's window and the wife's chest while masturbating. A squirrel startles him, he slips, gets the loop of the binoculars around his neck, and hangs himself.

Yes, he dies.

While he decomposes in the tree, we follow the rest of the characters. The wife gives herself amnesia while having sex with the nextdoor neighbor, the hypocritical religious son starts doing drugs while simultaneously developing a crush on a homosexual classmate, a neighbor finds himself associate with a couple of black hip-robbers. Oh, by the way, these are just a few of the numerous subplots that attempt to provide some dark insights of American life.

It's trying to be a picture like "30 Minutes or Less," a much-superior film released earlier this year. Neither film holds its audience with very high regard. So what is the difference between the two pictures and why is one a modestly successful and entertaining film with some laughs and insights and the other a sprawling, anger-inducing mess. The answer, I think, is that "30 Minutes or Less" had the wits and the courage to acknowledge what it was and play its satirical elements to a hilt. That way when I laughed at its black comic moments, I was feeling guilty for laughing at it, but being able to forgive myself because at the same time, the movie was offering some wicked and fascinating insights about contemporary culture and lifestyles.

"The Family Tree" only offers pseudo-insights. It never comes full term with what it is or what it wants to be or what it should be, and sparks anger as opposed to insights and laughs. Add to that some shoddy performance and a horrifically lamefooted directing style and the picture really bogs down. The movie is crammed with uncomfortably overpopulated close-ups and cheesy lighting reminiscent of dopey television comedies, not surprising seeing as how its director, Vivi Friedman, came from that field. The picture is just about an hour and a half long and it feels twice that length because it is so joylessly inept. Its specialty is not in providing information or laughs, but jolts of anger and groaning.

Reviewed by Raul Faust 5 / 10

Hehe

What a little freak thing is this movie! A weird family goes through a difficult time when the mothers gets a relative amnesia. Father is a turning-a-blind-eye man; mother is unfaithful and has a creepy fetish involving bandits; sister is an annoying and arrogant teenager that seems to overrate sex, whilst her brother is virgin and religious. There isn't much to expect about this story, considering there isn't a single enjoyable character. Also, sometimes the film feels tiresome. One of the few good things about it is the way writers portray religious fanaticism, using some ironical elements to make it's portrait. Kinda original story, but bad picture anyways.

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