A014_C019_1229MX

 
Family Weekend is a pleasantly surprising film that takes a strong swing at a familiar plot. We’ve seen the kids upset with parents and the struggle to return to family values before, but Matt K. Turner’s script proves to be an enjoyable journey.

Family Weekend, a saying when heard typically brings fond memories or the promise of fond memories to be made. However in the film, Emily Smith-Dungy, played by Olesya Rulin, has more of a mission in mind.  It’s obvious from the opening scene with Emily that she is no nonsense, responsible, and strict. She goes through the entire house leaving notes informing each individual in her family of her competition that day. Emily is a competitive speed jump roper and she is competing in the Michigan Regional where the top two will go on to compete at the State Finals.

Emily is quite upset when not a single member of her family show up to offer support. She returns home and begins to confront each member of the family as to why they weren’t there. This is where we get our first taste of what Emily is dealing with.

As she enters the house her younger sister, Joey King, greets her as Jodi Foster in Taxi Driver. She has her artist father, Matthew Modine, who appears to be a stereotypical member of the Green Party. He’s aloof with responses and Emily is off to her brothers room, Eddie Hassell, who is eccentric and seems to be attempting to follow his fathers artistic path. When mother, Kristin Chenoweth, arrives we immediately see she is a workaholic. Finally, Emily heads to her younger brother’s, Robbie Tucker, room and happens to overhear a nature show talking about Tasmanian devils and how they care for their young. This is what inspires Emily to kidnap her parents.

A028_C006_1230A6

 
Emily’s sole purpose is to regain the parents she fondly remembered when she was younger. She wants her family back and she won’t settle for anything less. She knows she can’t do it alone and recruits her siblings to assist in her grand scheme. Various hi-jinx ensues as Emily has only twenty four hours to rehabilitate her parents before she competes in the State Finals.

Turner’s script is really one of the strong suits of this film. The subtle balance of heart and humor mixed with extremes and reality give this film a unique indie feel. An accomplished cast, yet mostly unrecognizable, also benefit the film. Rulin’s Emily was perfectly played. We all know this type of person and Rulin showcased the precision of the characters determination and her heart brilliantly. Modine also shined nicely as the hippie father struggling to find his inner artist again. Joey King’s performance was hilarious as Lucy. Watching her reenact Resorvoir Dogs is priceless. The one fault mistake with this film is the casting choice of Chenoweth. It’s not that she gives a poor performance, but she just doesn’t seem to fit as well as one would hope.

There is a Little Miss Sunshine feel to this film and definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Family Weekend is available now on VOD and hits theaters on March 29.