Film Scouts Reviews

"A Family Thing"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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April 12, 1996

I had the luxury of not knowing anything about "A Family Thing" other than the
leads being Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones. For me, the two of them were
enough. These master actors could induce me to enter the theater just on their
past performances. But that isn't enough for the marketing folks who feel
compelled to give you and me the entire story line in a 30 second commercial.
No one has told them about selling the sizzle, and then the steak. So if you have
not seen the commercials, or worse, the trailer, run to the theater now and see "A
Family Thing".

I will tell you that Academy Award winner Duvall plays a redneck, good ole boy
who learns that his mother was not his birth mother. His biological mother was a
black woman who died giving birth to him. And his half brother is a Chicago
policeman, portrayed by Jones. It is a strong premise that these men are very
capable of handling. The other thing I have to tell you is that you will adore Irma
P. Hall. The Chicago-based veteran actress is warm, wise and witty as Aunt T.
Oh, and one more thing. Jones is a stutterer and inadvertently let it out in a
scene. He and director, Richard Pearce decided to let the stutter stay to give the
character more vulnerability. This is a side of James Earl Jones that we don't get
to see often, so enjoy it.

"A Family Thing" is encouraging because people who are older grow and change.
There is hope. Rated PG-13 for language and adult situations.

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