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Daddy & Them (2001)

Families can be difficult to live with, but sometimes they’re all you’ve got

Directed by:

Billy Bob ThorntonBilly Bob Thornton

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Billy Bob Thornton and Laura Dern play husband and wife Claude and Ruby Montgomery – part of an extended poor white trash Arkansas family. The family itself is largely dysfunctional and mostly alcoholic. Ruby is jealous and paranoid, especially as regards her sister who once dated Claude. In addition, Ruby's mother Jewel (Diane Ladd) is constantly telling Claude how he fails to measure up to Ruby's previous boyfriends. All this leads Claude to believe that he is not good enough for Ruby, which expresses itself in his desire to build up a muscular body – he believes she will love him more if he gets big.

The family are drawn together when Uncle Hazel (Jim Varney) is charged with murder. Not knowing anything about the law, the family must learn to work together along with lawyer Elaine Bowen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and husband Lawrence (Ben Affleck) whose relationship is nearly as stormy as that of the family. Getting through the court case will prove a challenge that will change the relationships within the family forever.

This is a gentle and amiable comedy that focuses less on plot and more on the relationships between its characters. The first half is slow and the lack of pace means that the story takes time to draw the audience in, however the second half is a definite improvement as the characters become increasingly interesting. The strong cast produce some outstanding performances, and it is those that give the film its merit, although they are sometimes unable to add interest where the story is lacking it. There is certainly a voyeuristic appeal to the film – the family do come across as genuine, and give one the feeling of looking in on the life of a real subsection of society.

It's Got: Characters that rise above their flaws and become increasingly appealing.

It Needs: More pace and development, especially in the first half.

DVD Extras No extras with this basic DVD release. Extras: None. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

Igby Goes Down, Life as a House, Soft Fruit

Summary

This is a simple yet intelligent comedy with some good qualities, but it takes its time to get going.

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