An Underwhelming Performance: A Review of The Family Fang

Joshua Feldman, Reporting Journalist

The Family Fang is a drama and comedy starring Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken. The plot centers around the children of two performance artists known for their elaborate hoaxes trying to uncover if their parents’ disappearance is real or simply another hoax. Going into this movie I was really excited to watch it. It not only stars one of my favorite comedic actors, Jason Bateman, but also had a plot that sounded fresh and genuinely interesting. After watching it however, it didn’t quite live up the expectations I had set.

I’ll start by saying this movie isn’t terrible. There are certainly positive aspects of this movie. Something that I think was really well done in this movie was the family dynamic. It was clear what this family was like and how everyone felt about each other, which helped to give weight to moments later on in the film. I also think the mystery they set up was really engaging and held my interest most of the way through. While it wasn’t the funniest movie ever, I think its attempts at injecting comedy were mostly successful and could normally get at least a small laugh.

I largely believe that my biggest issue with this movie is just how slow the overall pacing is. The Family Fang is only around 1 hour and 40 minutes and yet by the halfway point, I felt like I had been watching it for twice that length. They don’t even introduce the mystery of this film until over an hour into it. This movie feels like it takes forever to get started and by the time it does, it’s over. Another critique I have with this movie is that it constantly interrupts its story. It feels like every 10 minutes in this movie they stop to show you another flashback or focus on a side story that amounts to nothing. For example, they were constantly showing this documentary that was being filmed for the parents, which made you feel like there was going to be some sort of payoff and in the end, all that ended up happening was they went to some guy who was in the film for about 5 minutes and said he didn’t know anything. It leaves you with this feeling that the majority of this film is just a waste of time. It’s not that they couldn’t have had some of this stuff like the flashbacks for example, which helped set up the family dynamic, but they need to cut back on the overall amount of diversions in the film.

This movie also tries to establish arcs for its two main characters that I felt ultimately fell flat. What the movie tried to do is start each character off as damaged drug addicts heavily affected by their childhood who eventually, through the mystery, get better and move on. The problem with this really is in the fact that we never actually see them as damaged drugs addicts. The only way you even know they are supposed to be drug addicts is one line said in the film that essentially boils down to “I can’t quit drinking and your always taking pills.” It’s not necessarily that they had to focus on it, I just think they needed to make it more apparent in order for the end result to be satisfying.

Finally, I also believe that the ending of this movie was much weaker than desirable. It didn’t really make a whole lot of sense, even when looking at the rest of the film and it ended up feeling a touch low-brow. Overall, while this movie wasn’t terrible, there were a lot of issues with it and it couldn’t quite live up to the expectations I had set for it.

I wouldn’t really recommend this movie and I would give it a 5/10.