Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gathr Preview Series: Cold Turkey

I'm writing this on my way home from my own trip home for Thanksgiving, a pretty quick circuit to Portland, Maine to see my Dad, his wife, and her kids & grandkids, my brothers all being at their respective wives' families' gatherings. That's cool - it's pretty stress-free and the family being away for Thanksgiving generally means they're around for Christmas, allowing me to watch the Awesome Nieces unwrap presents in person.

And there's still a lot of pie.

Not a particularly important fact, that, and you can hardly call it ironic or coincidental; Gathr scheduled their Thanksgiving movie for a couple days before Thanksgiving, and I had a bit of a backlog to get through before I got to this. But then, it's only proper to publish the review for something called Cold Turkey after Thanksgiving dinner, right?

Interestingly, this was one of the better-attended previews that wasn't attached to a live appearance or other sponsor, which seems kind of random. It might be difficult to generate momentum from that, as next week's is pushed fairly late (9pm). I'll be there because it looks like a pretty interesting movie, but it won't fit the "take 350 bus home from work, get off in Arlington Center, get food at Elton's/Retro Burger, see movie" schedule.

Cold Turkey

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 November 2013 at the Regent Theatre (Gathr Preview Series, digital)

Folks from other continents much watch movies taking place on Thanksgiving and wonder why Americans have given themselves and extra week end of annoying travel to share a relatively bland meal and unresolved issues with family - even if many do end with the family members realizing how much they need each other. It's actually a lot more pleasant than that most of the time, but you certainly wouldn't know that from watching the likes of Cold Turkey.

This movie's family is the Turners. "Poppy" Jim (Peter Bogdanovich) and his second wife Deborah (Cheryl Hines) are hosting, as usual, their son Jacob (Ashton Holmes), his daughter Lindsay (Sonya Walger) from his first marriage, spouses Missy (Amy Ferguson) & TJ (Ross Partridge), and Lindsay's kids. This year, estranged daughter Nina (Alicia Witt) is making the trip for the first time in fifteen years, though she and her boyfriend Hank (Wilson Bethel) have an ulterior motive - but then, so do Lindsay and Jacob.

Some movies about family conflicts like to show them as simmering just under the surface before they explode, but to watch the Turners is not just to find their being related as unlikely (facial resemblance doesn't seem to have been a huge factor in casting) but to wonder if any members of this clan actually like each other. They're a distant, miserable bunch, and there's no indication of how the shambling alcoholic that Jim is could ever have ever inspired the sort of affection that has his kids calling him "Poppy" into adulthood. It livens up a bit when Nina arrives, but adding unbalanced and inappropriate to the mix just makes things less boring; it doesn't give the audience much reason to actually invest in the characters.

Full review at EFC.

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