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Branson Family Trip

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Reviewed on 2010-06-20
Received[2.5]  out of 4 stars
GenreComedy / Drama
Upper middle-class couple Kate (Catherine Keener from “Into the Wild,” “Capote” and “Being John Malkovich”) and Alex (Oliver Platt from “2012” and “Frost/Nixon”) run a trendy antique furniture store in Manhattan. They purchase the merchandise at estate sales from the children of dead people.

Kate feels guilty for the huge markup they take in turning a sizable profit. She tries to compensate by handing out greenbacks to every homeless person she encounters on the streets. She even attempts to volunteer her time at a nursing home or a center for kids with Down syndrome, but she finds the atmosphere too sad or depressing to be around. They live in a high-rise apartment on swanky Fifth Avenue with their chubby teenage daughter Abby (Sarah Steele from “Spanglish”).

They also bought the adjoining apartment with the condition that the cranky, cynical and very opinionated elderly tenant Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert who played Millie Helper in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and Yetta Rosenberg on “The Nanny”) can live there for the rest of her life. They are essentially waiting for 91-year-old Andra to die so they can knock out the wall with expansion plans for a master bedroom and a laundry room. They must rub shoulders on a daily basis with Andra and her two adult granddaughters Rebecca (Rebecca Hall from “Frost/Nixon,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “The Prestige”) and Mary (Amanda Peet from “2012,” “A Lot Like Love” and “The Whole Nine Yards”).

Rebecca is a radiology technician who administers mammograms. She dotes on her grandma and is a compassionate caregiver with no life of her own.

Mary gives facials at a spa. She is a very blunt and self-centered cynic. She is also a bit creepy stalking the new girlfriend of the guy who broke off a physical relationship with her.

The sketchily-drawn characters are mostly concerned with their physical appearance and worried about the aging process.

Abby has a bad acne problem and desperately wants a pair of jeans with a price tag of over $200.

The movie written and directed by Nicole Holofcener (“Friends with Money” and Lovely & Amazing”) offers slice-of-life observations exposing human quirks and flaws while maintaining a slow meandering pace. This plot less movie lacks any momentum and you get no feeling of empathy or sympathy for any of the characters.

A contrived affair between two unlikely participants requires a huge suspension of belief. The ensemble acting is sound with Guilbert standing out with a nostalgic trip down memory lane for viewers.

This drama generates a few comedic moments that will mostly appeal to New York City residents. The apartments, streets and business establishments will be easily recognizable by Big Apple dwellers.

The movie debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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