Coming to theaters from director Jason Bateman and Starz Digital Media comes a look at a dysfunctional family like none we have seen before because they are “The Family Fang.”
This is the story of the Fang family led by Caleb Fang (Christopher Walken), wife Camille (Maryann Punkett), daughter Annie (Nicole Kidman) and son Baxter (Jason Bateman). As the kids were growing up they learned that their parents were not quite the stereotypical Mom and Dad. No, the Fang’s were performance artists who consistently tried to shock and awe the world with their film making.
Years later Annie is now an actress trying to find the roles that would give her some satisfaction but instead made a name for herself as a basket case. Baxter is now a writer and with one successful book and a second not-so-much, he is in the middle of writers block in a very over due manuscript.
When Baxter’s agent gives him a chance to do an article, he sees it as a paying gig and does it. During the interview Baxter is injured and ends up in the hospital. Much to his distress the nurse says they called his parents to come and get him. In a panic he calls Annie begging her to rescue him from the clutches of the nutty parental units.
Going home again isn’t easy for either of them and within the first day they are each trying to find a way to run! Trying to make the best of things both Annie and Baxter actually slightly participate in their parent’s wacky new attempt at their art. When the day ends badly, Caleb tells the kids that he and Camille are off to the Berkshires for the weekend.
Thinking they had hit the jackpot, Annie and Baxter are relieved to see them go. One day later they receive a telephone call from the police saying their parent’s car has been found at a rest stop and there are signs of foul play. Annie immediately believes it is another stunt but Baxter isn’t so sure.
Now they both look back to look forward at what has happened to the parents they couldn’t wait to get away from!
Bateman as Baxter once again performs brilliantly. This actor has the amazing ability to draw an audience in with his straight faced wit and delivery. As Baxter, Bateman portrays a man stuck in the affect the Fang artistry has had on him. Knowing his parents aren’t exactly normal, he doesn’t really know what normal is! It takes stepping back and looking at those family moments that gives him clarity to go forward. The final scene with Walking and Punkett made my jaw drop because in real life someone’s jaw would be dropping and not in a nice way!
Kidman as Annie is a ball of anxiety! Watching this character start out a hot mess means there is no way to go but up and Kidman does just that. She becomes super-sleuth and it consumes her but for reasons she isn’t ready to face. Taking a brother who doesn’t seen that interested in finding his parents on her journey, Kidman spells out every step of her reasoning and isn’t going to let these parents get away with anything. In the same final scene with the parents, I really enjoyed watching Kidman give Annie what she needed to stand up for herself.
Punkett as Camille is a surprising character to watch. Believing in the art, she supports Caleb and the audience will be shaking their heads thinking ‘what is wrong with this woman letting Caleb just run amuck?’ Trust me, that was my thought as well but Punkett is intriguing to watch from start to finish.
Walken as Caleb once again turns in such an amazing performance. The character of Caleb is such a domineering personality in a family that goes-along-to-get-along and never really sees the damage he is causing. Truly believing that he is right in his ideas of art, he doesn’t give much leeway in letting his wife and kids have an opinion about anything. I have always said that Walken has the ability to sell ice to an Eskimo and playing the role of Caleb is no exception. Caleb’s rants are so heartfelt and strong at the time until the dust settles – and it settles all over the family!
Other cast include: Marin Ireland as Suzanne Crosby, Michael Chernus as Kenny, Josh Pais as Freeman, and Linda Emond as Miss Delano.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Family Fang” four tubs of popcorn out of five. I truly love this film because it is a mesh of comedy, drama, family dynamics, dysfunction, emotions, lack of emotions and realizations. In the first few frames I was wondering what the heck am I watching? Catching me off guard is a good thing because it only leaves every moment after riveting to watch.
“The Family Fang” has put together a cast that pulls off the twists, turns and quirks needed. Bouncing off one another there isn’t any one person that stands out when all four are on the screen and, the same is said when it is Bateman and Kidman on the parental hunt. They all make it work so beautifully and I enjoyed every moment of it.
If you are looking for a film that pushes the norm in family dysfunction yet still resembles your family, then hit the theatres this week to experience “The Family Fang” for yourselves. Actually, you might walk away appreciating your own family nuttiness.
In the end — the Fang’s dysfunctionally perform one frame at a time!