It Runs in the Family

The first on-screen teaming of Kirk Douglas, son Michael, and grandson Cameron is a familiar, rather sentimental Jewish family saga that's extremely old-fashioned. While it's good to see vet Kirk acting, one wishes for a better vehicle than this one, the tale of the Grombergs, a highly successful Jewish family–except when it comes to communicating with each other.

Clearly a labor of love, particularly by Michael Douglas, realizing that this might be his only opportunity to act with his father and do something special for him since he's speech-impaired, “It Runs in the Family,” will be dismissed by most critics as a movie suitable for today's climate, not to speak marketplace.

Alex Gromberg (Michael Douglas) is a man caught in the middle. Navigating the tricky, everchanging roles of father, son, and husband, he's trying to avoid the mistakes his father made while coming to terms with the ones he's already passed on to his own sons.

Mitchell Gromberg (Kirk Douglas), the patriarch and a retired partner of one of New York's leading law firms, is having difficulties of his own, coming to grips with his old age, declining abilities, and mortality. His devoted wife, Evelyn (Diana Douglas), has been Mitchell's emotional rock throughout their marriage and the peacemaker between him and their son Alex.

Then there's Asher Gromberg (Cameron Douglas), Alex's eldest son, a rebellious college student trying to cope with love and sex in a confused society. Ironically, Asher's younger brother, Eli (Rory Culkin), Alex's 11year old, is the most levelheaded of all the Gromberg men.

Three generations of an American family, each living separate lives in their own “dysfunctional way.” But every once in a while, there comes a time to get together and celebrate–to laugh, to fight, to cry, and to care for each other. And what better time than Passover, one of the sacred holidays in the Jewish calendar.

The film's most emoptional aspect-and most marketable element-is the joint appearance of the real-life members of the Douglas family. Onscreen together for the first time in their careers, Oscar-winners Michael Douglas and Kirk Douglas join Cameron Douglas and Diana Douglas to tell a story about the love, frustrations, and ultimately inescapable bonds of family. No doubt, viewers will try to read all kinds of messages and find all kinds of hints about the factual lives of the Douglases acting clan.