Bad Aunt

The premise: A proudly-flagrant, flagrantly-proud asshole is enlisted, against their will, to take care of an estranged, adolescent relative.

Cue the shock-humor — crass + kids = SHOCK!!! — and the inevitable realization of the joys of family and being…not an asshole, all while learning the folly of their assholedom.

Oh, and it’s titled Family.

[insert the biggest eye-roll in the Milky Way] 

The movie might as well have been named Bad Aunt, given its debt to Bad Santa, Bad Grandpa, Bad Teacher, Bad Moms, Bad News Bears — you getting the idea this set-up’s played out?

Oh, and can you guess that the aforementioned turd (played by Taylor Schilling, still looking for a big-screen role worthy of her skills; but her misuse pales in comparison to the disrespectful waste of Brian Tyree Henry) forges a meaningful relationship with her niece, only to suffer an end-of-Act-2 falling out — expressed in (surprise, surprise) emo montages — before making up and, of course, cementing their happily ever after. Roll credits!

Instead of regurgitating tropes to deconstruct them into something even remotely new, Family — and a lot of the afore-listed genre antecedents — relies on (I’d argue exploits) the appeal of supposed transgression, as if there’s nothing more risqué than a youngster saying ‘fuck’ for yucks. Why exploits? Because the movie, despite these superficial shows of comedic counter-culture, ultimately reaffirms conventional values, such as familial love’s transformative prowess to improve your WHOLE LIFE, for the objective better, OVERNIGHT!!! Apparently, none of us — nor any level of dedication to our jobs — can (nor should) resist the holy potion of transcendent childrearing.

Hollywood loves considering itself on the forefront of imparting progressive ideals on the surface, all while fundamentally perpetuating the status quo. Blue youth humor may have once challenged audiences, but it’s old-hat by now. And instructing parents to allow accept foster their children’s quirks was probably a revolutionary moral back in the day, but as much as the problem still persists in the real world, it’s basically a traditional ideal on the silver screen by now.

Speaking of Family‘s cliches:

Writers, I’m begging you, for the sake of my sanity, PLEASE stop starting stories right before the eventual climax you’ll spend the rest of the movie building back to. Unless it’s some sort of referential commentary on this narrative structure, all you’re doing is preparing us for the unoriginality to come.

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