Relative Strangers

Relative Strangers


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Ron Livingston cashes in any credibility chips he won from Adaptation and Band of Brothers to take the lead in this awful ‘comedy’. He plays the well-to-do Richard Clayton, a successful psychiatrist who has just published a self-help bestseller. He has supportive parents, is engaged to the delectable Neve Campbell and life is looking good.

When his jealous brother then reveals that Richard was actually adopted, the reality check prompts him to find his real mother and father, Frank and Agnes Menure (pronounced, manure).

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Ding dong, they turn up at his door and are, of course, his worst nightmare: rude, loud, obnoxious, crude and, horror of horrors, of a lower class than him. The poorest of high jinks ensue as worlds collide to the oblivious amusement of the Menures and the increasingly frantic disappointment and disgust of Richard. His world collapses, as does his engagement as he tries to get his Menures out of his life before, with head-smacking inevitability, realising the errors of his ways.

This is a painful watch. You don’t care about the characters because writer-director Greg Glienna’s dire script can’t invoke any interest or emotional involvement, which in turn means that the performances are generally one-dimensional. The jokes are basic at best and just not very funny. And this from the man who wrote Meet The Parents (well, he came up with the story). One scene where Richard loses it during an all-too-recognisable daytime chat show raises a smile, but it’s a long wait, with Livingston mostly insufferable. I’d like to say the piece is a wry comment on The Dream, roots, social divide and family cohesion in modern America, but not about Relative Strangers.

Now talking about credibility, what on earth are Kathy Bates and Danny DeVito thinking of playing the Menures? Their sizeable talents have been better used in far better pictures. It must have been a dare for Kathy, but acting as one of the 16 producers, DeVito had more of an invested stake. Shame he didn’t take more control and help Glienna improve things.

Neve Campbell is also squandered in a thankless role, which with Churchill: The Hollywood Years represents another poor choice by her or her agent.

Don’t get familiar with this film.

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2006
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Relative Strangers packshot
An adopted son finds his real parents and more than he had hoped for.
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Director: Greg Glienna

Writer: Greg Glienna, Peter Stass

Starring: Ron Livingston, Danny DeVito, Kathy Bates, Neve Campbell, Beverly D’Angelo, Ed Begley Jr

Year: 2006

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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