Emily Smith-Dungy (Olesya Rulin) is a teenage jump rope champion who just wants her family to get along. Not only do they not show up at her competitions despite the pointed post-it note reminders she leaves for them, they barely take time away from their own individual pursuits to sit down to dinner together or even say something nice to one another once in a while. Emily’s Mom (Kristin Chenowith) is a soon-to-be VP of a multinational conglomerate who never outs down her phone and her Dad (Matthew Modine) is a failed artist who sleeps the day away in his “painter’s membrane” as an excuse to check out of his now tenuous marriage. Emily’s siblings–an older brother who lies about being gay, a sister who spends all her time as characters in movies inappropriate for her age group and a younger brother who spends all of his time watching graphic nature docs–are used to how bad things have gotten but they’re more than ready to jump on board when Emily enlists them to help kidnap their parents and keep them tied to chairs until they recognize their issues and vow to make a change.
Family Weekend is film that starts out seemingly confused as to what it wants to be and comes into its own somewhere during the second act when it transforms into a genuinely heartfelt look at what happens to kids when their family is in crisis. As the initial contrived looniness evens out and Emily begins to delve into her relationship with her parents and their relationship with one another, the story becomes a lot easier to relate to, since we’ve all had a moment in our lives when we realized that our Moms and Dads are just human beings like everyone else.
Is Family Weekend Essential TIFF Next Wave Viewing?
Yes and no. It certainly has its sweet moments and ultimately makes its point about parent/child relationships in a unique way but…it’s occasionally too contrived and the second act is a bit of a slog to get through.
Family Weekend Screening Time