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"IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY"
(2003) (Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Heavy Minor Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Heavy Heavy Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Various generations of a family try to overcome their dysfunctional ways and difficulties in communicating with one another.
PLOT:
It's been a year since retired lawyer Mitchell Gromberg (KIRK DOUGLAS) had a stroke, but other than some speech problems, he's doing well, much to his surprise. After picking up his brother, Stephen (MARK HAMMER), who's been institutionalized for dementia, he joins his wife, Evelyn (DIANA DOUGLAS), for dinner with his lawyer son, Alex (MICHAEL DOUGLAS), his therapist wife, Rebecca (BERNADETTE PETERS), and their two sons, 11-year-old Eli (RORY CULKIN) and 21-year-old Asher (CAMERON DOUGLAS).

Although they're mostly civil, the various generations of the Gromberg clan don't necessarily get along. Rebecca is worried that they don't verbally communicate enough with the smart but introverted Eli, who's just starting to be interested in the opposite sex. In particular, he likes Abby Staley (IRENE GOROVAIA), a troubled former runaway who's just returned to school.

He's a good kid, however, compared to Asher who routinely skips his college classes in favor of dealing pot to others and serving as a deejay at local clubs. His romantic interest is Peg Maloney (MICHELLE MONAGHAN), a classmate who initially doesn't like him, but eventually warms up to his charming ways.

That trait apparently runs in the family as Alex finds himself the object of attraction to Suzie (SARITA CHOUDHURY), a woman who volunteers in the local soup kitchen with him. When Rebecca finds Suzie's underwear in Alex's coat pocket, things become even more strained in the Gromberg household, a point exacerbated by an unexpected death. From that point on, the various members of the family try to deal with their various problems and difficulties in communicating with each other.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't seem very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For drug content, sexual material and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MICHAEL DOUGLAS plays a lawyer who doesn't get along with his father and runs into trouble with his wife after a brief and uncompleted fling with another woman. He uses some profanity and drinks.
  • BERNADETTE PETERS plays his therapist wife who's hurt, confused and angry about finding another woman's panties in her husband's coat pocket and is concerned about their kids.
  • KIRK DOUGLAS plays Alex's cantankerous father, a retired founding partner of a law firm who's still recovering from the effects of a stroke and must deal with several close deaths in the family.
  • RORY CULKIN plays Alex's reserved but smart son who's intrigued by sex and finds himself drawn to Abby.
  • CAMERON DOUGLAS plays his older brother, a college student and drug dealer who uses profanity, likes Peg, and briefly smokes a joint. He also has casual sex with a stranger.
  • DIANA DOUGLAS plays Mitchell's loving wife.
  • MICHELLE MONAGHAN plays a classmate of Asher's who inexplicably finds herself drawn to him. She uses some profanity and wants to have sex with him.
  • IRENE GOROVAIA plays a former runaway and currently angry and disillusioned punk/goth girl who returns to school and draws the attention of Eli. She briefly smokes.
  • SARITA CHOUDHURY plays the soup kitchen worker who wants to have sex with Alex despite both of them being married to others.
  • MARK HAMMER plays the family's elderly uncle who's suffering from dementia.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consist of at least 17 "s" words while other expletives (including slang terms for sex and genitalia) and colorful phrases are also used. Some boys look through a porno magazine and comment on what they see (which we don't), other sexually related dialogue is present in various scenes, while a sexual encounter is completed off-camera. We also see two aborted or interrupted ones (both with passionate making out, some disrobing and one with partial nudity).

    One of them involves a near-affair by two married people, while various other bad attitudes are also present. Tense family material stems from that, as well as several deaths in the family and strained family relations. Various characters drink (some quite a bit), while one is a drug dealer and we see pot, cannabis plants and him briefly smoking a joint.

    Some crude humor is briefly present, as are some bullies who pick on a boy (resulting in some brief fighting). Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Asher gets a page that states that a person needs some "Mary Jane." We then see him selling some pot (which we see in bags) to two young women.
  • Alex drinks several shots of liquor and offers one to Rebecca, but she says it's too early.
  • Mitchell somewhat jokingly complains about the wine his son and daughter-in-law have offered him and he wants some "that I can drink." As Rebecca goes off to get some, Alex asks her to bring a shot of tequila for him. Later, some of them have wine with dinner and after Alex states that Mitchell seems to like the wine, Rebecca says he's not the only one (meaning Alex is drinking too much).
  • We briefly see Asher smoking a joint.
  • Rebecca asks Alex if he thinks Asher was stoned, and Alex replies it was hard to tell since he always looks that way.
  • Some people have drinks in two restaurants, including Alex and Rebecca who have wine in front of them.
  • As Alex describes some of the features on a sewing machine he's ordered for Rebecca, he jokingly includes "autoeroticism" as one of them.
  • Asher and others drink shots in a club.
  • When Asher states he's in the library (when he's really in bed with a stranger), Alex (on the phone) jokingly asks if they rolled some kegs in there.
  • Some people have beer at a baseball game.
  • We see some empty beer bottles in Asher's place and then see him drinking more.
  • Asher and Alex have beer and others have wine with dinner.
  • Peg has a beer while on the phone.
  • In a non drug-related moment, Peg asks Asher, "Are you high?"
  • Asher and his friend drink shots of whiskey and Peg later joins them. We also see drug paraphernalia on the table and Asher comments on his "laboratory." Later, police find a secret closet in Asher's place that contains many cannabis plants.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We hear farting sounds from Uncle Stephen (who's suffering from dementia) and everyone reacts to the smell.
  • Asher vomits moments after running into something while playing basketball (seen from a distance).
  • We see a dead body, but beyond being dead, it's not gory or decomposing.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Abby has a mean and defiant attitude toward Eli and others at first.
  • Asher is late to pick up his grandmother from dialysis, causing her to take a cab. We also hear that he's cut enough classes and gotten enough bad grades that he has to return to college for a fifth year.
  • A person in Asher's class has written a play called "Three kikes and a heeb" (that he claims is satire, but we also hear part of it has a Jewish person doing charades to act out the Holocaust).
  • Asher is disrespectful to Peg in class (even purposefully knocking her notebook off her desk). He later likes her, however.
  • Asher is a drug dealer and that later gets Peg in trouble with the law.
  • Some older kids are mean to Eli and his friends and throw eggs at them. One then holds a knife to Eli.
  • Alex nearly has an affair with another woman (both are married), but they're interrupted before they go all of the way.
  • Mitchell (a WWII veteran) refers to Alex's German car as a "Kraut" car.
  • The above bullies pick on Eli and Abby (one spits in her face) and get rough with Eli.
  • Alex reluctantly helps his father set a dead relative off in a rowboat into a lake at night (after dousing the body and the boat with fuel). Mitchell then throws a lighter into the boat, catching it and the body on fire (nothing gross and done in a funeral pyre sort of ritual).
  • Police restrain and then search Asher's apartment without a search warrant (and then arrest him and others).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • It's possible that Eli's two encounters with older bullies could be a little tense or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Knife: Briefly used by a bully to threaten Eli.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "That is such bullsh*t," "What kind of sh*t is this?" "Piece of sh*t," "Sh*thead," "Holy sh*t," "Horny," "Cold-hearted pr*ck," "You're acting like a p*ssy," "What the hell /are you looking at/are you talking about/are you doing?" "Up to my ass," "Balls" and "Family jewels" (testicles), "Screw me," "Artsy-fartsy," "Drain my dragon" (urinate), "Ball buster," "Bastards" (also in subtitles), "Schmuck(y)," "Screw up," "Don't be a smart ass," "Why the hell not?" "Freaking," "Retarded" (how Eli refers to a school dance he doesn't want to attend), "Chick" (woman), "Slime ball," "Gutter whore," "The hell with 'em," "Sucks," "Screw up" (noun), "Screwed up" and "Pain in the ass."
  • Abby wears a nose ring through her nostril.
  • Asher has various tattoos.
  • Some older kids are mean to Eli and his friends and throw eggs at them.
  • A young woman wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • Alex reluctantly helps his father set a dead relative off in a rowboat into a lake at night (after dousing the body and the boat with fuel). Mitchell then throws a lighter into the boat, catching it and the body on fire (nothing gross and done in a funeral pyre sort of ritual).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 17 "s" words, 2 slang terms for sex ("poking" and "schtooping"), 4 using female genitals ("p*ssy" and "pooty-tang"), 2 using male genitals ("pr*ck" and "dragon" and a possible "d*ck"), 16 hells, 7 asses (3 used with "hole"), 7 damns, 1 crap, 1 S.O.B., 5 uses each of "G-damn" and "Jesus," 4 of "Oh my God," 2 each of "Christ," "Oh God" and "Oh Jesus" and 1 use of "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • One of Eli's classmates has fashioned some molding clay into the shape of breasts.
  • Asher suggestively licks his tongue at Peg in class.
  • Eli and his friends look through a porno magazine called "Smutt" (we only see part of the cover and nothing explicit). One boy comments on what they're seeing being "69," but one states that it's nothing compared to "oral sex."
  • An older boy picks on Eli and others and wants them to deliver a message to Abby that she needs to finish what she started and that his "balls" are about to burst.
  • Asher comes on to Peg, but she wants nothing to do with him. He then says "Screw me" (meaning that he screwed up), but she takes it the sexual way and replies, "I don't think so."
  • A fellow soup kitchen work, Suzie, comes on to Alex and feels his clothed butt. She then says, "Don't tell me you haven't felt the heat" between them as she nuzzles on his neck and earlobe. They then passionately make out in the kitchen and she apparently grabs his crotch (out of the camera shot, but we see his reaction). We then see her grab his clothed crotch and he says he can't do this. She then says that she has evidence to the contrary (an erection reference). He then sweeps items off a cart, props her up on it (as they continue to make out), we hear a zipper being undone and his pants then falls down. We see him between her legs in his boxers, but they're interrupted before anything else happens.
  • Asher asks Eli (who's 11) if he's gotten any "pooty-tang" from his martial arts activities and asks, "Poking her?" about Abby.
  • Alex tells Suzie that he can't do anything with her when they meet again and she wants to finish the above. She asks if that's the Bill Clinton defense and he says that guilt is more powerful than lust.
  • After Rebecca tells Eli that he can ask her or Alex anything, he asks, "Do you and dad ever 69?" She doesn't reply and looks a bit shocked.
  • A young woman tells Asher her name as they go back to one of their places so that he'll remember it in the morning (they then do some passionate kissing in the hallway). It's implied that they have sex and we see them the next morning in bed (he gets up, she's still in bed with the sheets just over her unseen breasts).
  • While slow dancing, Evelyn puts Mitchell's hands on her clothed butt and tells him to hold her like he loves her.
  • Rebecca finds Suzie's panties in Alex's coat pocket and believes he's having an affair.
  • We see Peg in small panties or bikini bottom while she talks on the phone with Asher (about a death in the family). He then asks her if she's wearing any "exciting undergarments" and she wonders, "Does death always make you this horny?" After Asher gets off the phone, Mitchell asks who it was and whether Asher is "schtooping" her (and thrusts his arm out while saying that). When Asher says no, Mitchell asks, "Why the hell not?" He then gives him some advice about "When you're ready to close the deal" (basically saying to get up, put on your shoes and leave).
  • Asher and Peg passionately make out and then start to remove each other's clothes (we see her in a thong bottom and thus see her bare butt cheeks). He starts to climb on top of her and starts to pull down his boxers (we see part of his bare butt), but he stops (following his grandfather's advice) and says he doesn't want to ruin their relationship by having sex so quick. He then gets dressed, briefly kisses her and leaves.
  • Rebecca shows a little cleavage in her nightgown.
  • SMOKING
  • Abby smokes once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that a woman's father recently died.
  • Alex and Mitchell don't always get along and end up arguing about their past and present relationship.
  • Eli acknowledges that he's thought about running away from home (like Abby).
  • Rebecca finds Suzie's panties in Alex's coat pocket and believes he's having an affair. That then leads to many moments of strained relations between them (including Alex having to sleep on the sofa).
  • A man discovers his wife dead in bed (of apparent natural causes). A funeral and other related material then follows.
  • A man's brother dies and he and his son must deal with that.
  • We hear that Abby ran away from home due to non-attentive parents.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Family dynamics.
  • Dealing drugs.
  • Affairs.
  • Strokes.
  • Deaths in the family.
  • Dementia.
  • Dialysis.
  • Casual sex.
  • Police restrain and then search Asher's apartment without a search warrant (and then arrest him and others).
  • Running away from home.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some older kids are mean to Eli and his friends and throw eggs at them. One then holds a knife on Eli.
  • A jogger accidentally runs into Mitchell on a running path and knocks him down (but helps him up).
  • Suzie purposefully breaks a soup kitchen plate in anger.
  • The above bullies pick on Eli and Abby and get rough with Eli. He then kicks one in the shin, hits him across the face and then kicks him in the crotch. Another bully then tries to hit Eli with his skateboard, but Eli blocks and thus breaks that board. Eli and Abby then run off.
  • Police push Asher, Peg and a friend up against a wall while restraining and then arresting them.
  • Alex reluctantly helps his father set a dead relative off in a rowboat into a lake at night (after dousing the body and the boat with fuel). Mitchell then throws a lighter into the boat, catching it and the body on fire (nothing gross and done in a funeral pyre sort of ritual).



  • Reviewed April 25, 2003 / Posted April 26, 2003

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