Thursday, June 27, 2024

A Family Affair: Movie Review

High on the comedic energy, very low on the romance.
We’re in the era of competing movies on the streamers. Two months ago, Amazon released The Idea of You, a single mother dates a famous pop star, and now Netflix has released A Family Affair, a single mother dates a famous actor. However the few deviations provide big differences in the tone and theme of the two movies. A Family Affair is strictly a romantic comedy, emphasis on the comedy, where the 20-something daughter takes great umbrage with her mother’s new romantic interest.   2024

Directed by: Richard LaGravenese

Screenplay by: Carrie Solomon

Starring: Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Joey King and Kathy Bates

Zara (Joey King) works as a personal assistant for the very famous, very rich, very out-of-touch, very egocentric actor Chris Cole (Zac Efron), although she does quit and gets fired and re-hired every day. It’s an hilariously volatile relationship, which only gets worse when Chris meets and falls in love with her mother Brooke (Nicole Kidman).

The first half of the movie is very funny, filled with Efron’s many observations completely out of touch with reality and King’s immature but not completely unwarranted reactions to her ridiculous boss. Some people find Joey King annoying, and her antics here are more heightened than her performances like The Kissing Booth, so be warned because that will rule out a few potential audiences. The second half of the movie slows down significantly as Chris and Brooke’s relationship gets serious and Zara just has to deal. This is the weak part of the script since the movie just isn’t deep enough to get serious and it drags significantly since there is no romantic chemistry between Efron and Kidman.

The Idea of You, more in line with a romantic drama, has the room to explore how their relationship affects each other and significantly the unfair implications it places on the daughter. A Family Affair's attempts to do that are much more limited and with Zara being an adult, the implications placed on her really don’t matter, so we just have a boring romance for the second half. For anyone who may have thought that Zac Efron and Joey King would make a better pair given they’re closer in age, the beginning of the movie quickly shows how disastrous they would be. Brooke is a lot more mature and grounded than Zara, and Chris desperately needs that (Even if Efron's chemistry with King is better).

The film’s commentary and brief insights into the Hollywood life are good though. Presumably accurate from Zara’s point-of-view and accurate from Chris’s point-of-view with the massive caveat that Chris barely understands reality himself so the insight into the A-list actor’s lifestyle is only so-far as Chris can accurately paint the picture without his ego getting in the way. An entertaining ego it is though. A comedic high point in Zac Efron's career.

There are two parts to the resolution; the first half is the romance story, and it’s predictable, exactly as expected for a romantic comedy; the second half is the career side of the story, a very funny, entertaining and satisfying conclusion that brings back the comedic energy of Zac Efron and Joey King together.

The comedic chemistry between King and Efron is stronger than the romantic chemistry between Kidman and Efron, but it is generally the comedy that propels a romantic comedy forward. A Family Affair is a well-produced and funny romantic comedy that drags once the romance gets serious and the script falters.