If you have not heard of The Family Fang, I do not blame you! This film seemed to pass too quietly for how good it is. Thankfully, it is on DVD, and ready for you to buy on July 5. The reason I recommend this film is not because it is funny and has some of the best performances from Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman; though it is all those things. I recommend this film because it proves something we all know: we can grow older without growing up.
Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett are Caleb and and Camille Fang. Two kooky and charismatic parents that, to an outsider, are lovable and fun, but to their children, Annie Fang (Nicole Kidman) and Baxter Fang (Jason Bateman), they are emotional drains. There penchant for flashy, public hoaxes have caused embarrassment, anxiety, and depression with their children. Unfortunately, they carry these darkened sentiments into their adulthood. For however, Annie and Baxter exclaim or think ” I am not a child anymore”, their sense of lostness and self-destruction comes from their inner child trying to accept that it never had a parent. Thus, beyond the laughs is an actual tackling of a difficult reality: some people should not be parents.
We all have our childhood scars, but Annie and Baxter’s need emergency surgery. They were placed in positions where not only did they have to raise themselves, but they had to raise their parents, as well. There are moments when Caleb and Camille are so brazenly cold and callous with their children’s physical health and emotions, you want to enter the film to remove them. It reminds you of the hefty power parents have over their children as their guides and protectors; they really can destroy the self-esteem of their child with their choices. As the public performances grow wilder, they also grow darker for the Annie and Baxter as children trying to build an identity beyond being plot points or set pieces for their parents “art”, which is a “flighty “word when in relation to the elder Fangs. Caleb Fang excuses damaging his children as inevitable for all parents, but what he fails to realize is that healing them is not impossible. Its understandable why the young Fangs have a difficult time embracing and wanting to aid in the search of their disappeared parents because they do not have said connection or perception.
Nicole Kidman is phenomenal and heartbreaking as Annie Fang. She is so raw in her representation of self-healing and the difficulties that lie with moving on from not having a parent. Sure, your mom and dad could be “there” right in front of you, but if they are not spiritually present, you might as well ask a wall for emotional advice. Thus, Annie Fang exemplifies how, inside, you will always have that inner child clamoring to be loved and counseled by their meant guides (parents). Yet, as her and Baxter journey to find their “missing parents”, they discover that the first step to healing is accepting that you have wounds.
I really loved The Family Fang. Jason Bateman directed this film based on the equally witty and similarly titled Kevin Wilson novel. This is Bateman’s second tackling of the director seat, and, like Bad Words, he has aimed to humorously/tragically target the dysfunction of family. The DVD contains audio commentary by Bateman, which is always exciting for fellow movie-lovers that enjoy hearing the passion and mindset of a director’s creative choices. Luckily, Bateman is an articulate, funny guy, which makes his commentary particularly relishable. The Family Fang comes out on DVD on July 5, and is Starz Digital Media production.