"The Perfect Family" Movie Review

Kathleen Turner dazzles as an Irish Catholic mother with a gay daughter, a soon-to-be-divorced son and an important Monsignor to impress

by Alison Bailes
the perfect family image
Photograph: Courtesy of Variance Films/The Perfect Family LLC

With her first feature, director Anne Renton has assembled an impressive cast to delve into the ups and downs of family dynamics. Kathleen Turner plays Eileen Cleary, the matriarch of an Irish Catholic family trying to impress her Monsigneur (Richard Chamberlain in a nod to The Thorn Birds). She may be a good Catholic, but her children have their own idea of family values. Her son (Jason Ritter) wants out of his loveless marriage and her gay daughter (Emily Deschanel) is having a baby with her life-partner. Nominated for the Catholic Woman of the Year award from her church, suddenly Eileen doesn’t feel so perfect.

It’s hard not to be won over by Turner’s performance. As a woman who has devoted her whole life to her husband, children and the church Eileen plods on staunchly even as her world crumbles and Turner brings humor and pathos to her situation. Unfortunately the other characters are little more than stand-ins for certain types and the film stumbles under the weight of cliché and wooden dialogue. Will Eileen win Catholic Woman of the Year? Or will she come to realize that perfect families come in all shapes and sizes? Is the Pope Catholic?

The Perfect Family, in theaters May 2012

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