The Perfect Family

Directed By: Anne Renton

Starring: Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel, and Jason Ritter

I am a huge Kathleen Turner fan. I grew up on films like Romancing the Stone and The War of the Roses.  So I was delighted when I was tasked to review The Perfect Family, Turner’s new indie flick.  While the film definitely has some bright moments, it unfortunately feels more like a made for television movie.

The Perfect Family follows Eileen Cleary (Turner), a dutiful Catholic and a married mother of two adult children.  Eileen delivers meals to the needy every day, works tirelessly for the church and seems fairly close to sainthood.  Her efforts do not go unnoticed and soon Eileen discovers that she has been nominated for Catholic Woman of the Year.  She is competing against longtime rival Agnes (Sharon Lawrence) for the honor.  Eileen is desperate to win the award because the winner will also receive the prayer of absolution from the Archbishop from Dublin.  There is one hitch, however, the award committee must visit and meet Eileen’s family to ensure that they are all good Catholics.

Unfortunately for Eileen, her family is not as perfect as she would like them to appear.  Her husband, Frank (Michael McGrady), is a recovering alcoholic whose past conduct put a substantial strain on the marriage and the family.  Eileen’s son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) is having an affair with a local nail salon owner, and is on the verge of divorce.  And Eileen’s daughter Shannon (Emily Deschanel) takes this opportunity to announce that she is a lesbian, five months pregnant, and getting married to her girlfriend.  Suffice it to say, alcoholism, divorce and same sex marriage are not issues Eileen wants to present to the archbishop and the Catholic Woman of the Year committee.  Eileen spends the rest of the film trying to correct and alternatively hide her family’s “problems.”

Turner does an astounding job as the matriarch of a family in turmoil.  She brings heart and humor to the film.  However, while Turner plays the uptight mom perfectly, her performance alone cannot carry the film.  Ultimately, the movie suffers from a predictable storyline and some unsympathetic characters.  For instance, while I empathize with Shannon’s struggle to be open with her mother about her sexuality, she is a little unreasonable.  Instead of sitting down and having an adult dialogue with her mother, she sprung marriage, pregnancy and other items on her mother out of the blue, and then was upset when her mother did not react well.  Frank, Jr. left his wife and two children and started gallivanting around town with another woman without even telling his parents.  As viewers, we’re led to believe that they are acting this way because Eileen is so overbearing.  However, I just didn’t buy it and Eileen’s actions in the film were that of a mother who was trying to understand and evolve with her children.  

At the end of the day, this is really a Lifetime movie—some film that you watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon when nothing else is on TV.  The Perfect Family gets a 0.09% rating.  Watch it at home with a Dream Berry.