The Perfect Family

The joke of The Perfect Family, of course, is that no such thing exists. Yet in the film, just as in real life, some people put on airs that suggest otherwise.

The situation at the heart of this dramedy — running Friday through Mother’s Day at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art — is timely, if also a bit made-for-TV.

1980s sex symbol Kathleen Turner gets her first leading role in a decade as passive-agressive wife and
mother Eileen Cleary. So deeply involved she is in her Catholic parish
that her priest (Richard Chamberlain, in dead-on casting — nudge, wink)
nominates Eileen for the Catholic Woman of the Year award. At the
ceremony, the winner will receive absolution of all sins from the
visiting archbishop of Dublin.

Eileen looks to be a shoo-in, with the only thing standing in her way being her longtime nemesis (Sharon Lawrence, TV’s Drop Dead Diva), dating
back to third grade. Well, that and the true nature of Eileen’s family
members, which she not only tries to suppress, but ignore and deny:
• that her husband (Michael McGrady, TV’s Southland) is a recovering alcoholic;
• that her daughter (Emily Deschanel, TV’s Bones) is a pregnant lesbian; and
• that her son (Jason Ritter, TV’s Parenthood) is divorcing a wife he doesn’t love for a salon owner he does.

“Who cares if you’re happy?” Eileen says at family dinner. “You need to do the right thing.”

Of course, they are doing
the right thing, simply by being true to themselves. It’s Eileen who’s
the hypocrite, as are fellow parishioners pressuring her into an
unrealistic ideal.

Anne
Renton’s directorial debut has lots of things to say about wrapping
one’s hatred under a cloak bearing the label of Christianity; I only
wish she had confronted them without becoming so … well, preachy.
Subtle, the film is not, despite its Hallmark-card veneer.

It’s also not a bad film — just a mediocre one. The real reason to see it would be for a reminder of Turner’s acting talent.

For
a better movie opening this weekend that also explores the friction of
family — and with a prize at stake, at that — the Cannes winner Footnote is
scheduled for an exclusive run at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W.
Memorial. It’d actually make a great thematic double feature with Perfect, albeit with 14 miles between them.

Rod Lott

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