4 January 2012 | natrc2003
Slapdash and unfocused but pleasant nonetheless
First off, Christina Hendricks fans: don't waste your time. She's in the film for all of three minutes (long enough for the camera to linger longingly on her chest, of course) and otherwise doesn't have much to do with the plot.
While pleasant enough, this movie comes off as slap-dash and unfocused. It just doesn't know where it wants to go, which story/character it really wants to follow. This is partly the fault of being based on the "dysfunctional family" trope, which works best when we still manage to care/sympathize/identify with at least one of the family members. The problem here is that we can't: the mother's a bitch, the father's an impotent robot, the son's a gun-obsessed Jesus freak (the gun obsession serving only to telegraph the ending), and the awful mother-in-law doesn't actually appear until the very end of the film. Only the fake-slut daughter comes off as somewhat sympathetic, but the film refuses to focus on her character, and she remains somewhat of a stick-figure (figuratively and literally).
The lack of focus comes through from the very beginning: the film starts with a voice-over, of the gun-freak son, but abruptly drops the voice-over, only to revive it again at the very end -- in order to give a film-standard wearily wise "look at how much we've learned" speech that doesn't really work. The voice-over might have worked better if the son had been the central character and the film had been meant to examine his growth -- but he isn't and the film doesn't.
All in all, it appears the director/writer didn't have a clear idea about what movie they were making. The result is a slapdash, unfocused effort.
Still, for all that, the movie was pleasant enough to sit through, with a few funny bits and good performances from the actors. Not something I'd recommend paying for -- wait for it to hit cable.