'The Perfect Family' is perfectly satisfying
A review of Anne Renton's familial comedy/drama "The Perfect Family," starring Kathleen Turner, whose return to the big screen is overdue.
Seattle Times movie critic
'The Perfect Family,' with Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel, Jason Ritter, Elizabeth Peña, Richard Chamberlain. Directed by Anne Renton, from a screenplay by Claire V. Riley and Paula Goldberg. 84 minutes. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic materials. Pacific Place.
At first, Anne Renton's "The Perfect Family" seems like a working-class Catholic spin on an episode of "Desperate Housewives." Eileen Cleary (Kathleen Turner) is a wife, mother and tireless volunteer in her suburban parish — and she's thrilled to hear that she's been nominated by her monsignor (Richard Chamberlain in a clerical collar, bringing back long- buried memories of "The Thorn Birds") for Catholic Woman of the Year.
The only problem is Eileen's so-called "perfect family," which must pass muster with the board of judges. Her husband Frank (Michael McGrady) is a recovering alcoholic; her daughter Shannon (Emily Deschanel) is a lesbian planning to have a child with her partner (Angelique Cabral); and her son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) has left his wife for the local manicurist. How will Eileen manage to conceal all of this "imperfection"?
All of this sounds like the setup for a zany and patently false comedy (the sort we've seen many times before) — and yet, "The Perfect Family" gradually establishes itself as something else: a moving story of a woman's attempt to keep pace in a world that's moving too quickly for her. Turner, a welcome sight (she hasn't made a movie since 2008), lets us see Eileen's struggle on her often-pained face, and makes her perhaps too-sudden change of heart believable. Not everything in this movie makes sense (why is Shannon, who's on bed rest, suddenly marching down the aisle at her wedding?), but its final scenes leave the viewer satisfied: Love, in its quiet way, triumphs once more.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org