In some ways, this may be the “feel good” movie of the year because, no matter how dysfunctional your family is, this movie will make you feel good that yours is far less vitriolic and vindictive and just plain vile than the family you’ll see in this movie. But that’s no reason to see it; in fact, there is no other reason to see it either because (in the words of my late mother) “this is hateful stuff.” And is it my imagination, or are movies, in general, turning more cruel? Depravity, random violence, bloodiness, and foul language have commandeered popular entertainment. What happened to great scripts and likeable characters who live on in our imaginations? Every other trailer, it seems, is for a “slasher flick” in which someone is getting carved up in the darkness. How can this be entertainment? Is this really what people want to see? Is this what audiences would make if audiences made the movies?
This is a dark movie where individual performances (Streep and Roberts) are better than the whole; the movie itself is both mean and mediocre. This is not a movie that entertains; it’s one that mostly makes us cringe. If it brings back any memories of your own family gatherings, they will be the ones you’ve tried long to forget. And, in these days and times, none of us need more of that. Stay away from this poisonous film. We don’t need movies like this. We don’t need any more cruelty on screen – or in this world.