A FAMILY AFFAIR – Review by Susan Granger

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A Family Affair is a Hallmark movie – only it’s on Netflix. Let me explain.

Hallmark movies follow a specific ‘feel good’ formula. There’s a hot, hunky protagonist who falls in love with an unlikely romantic partner. They’re faced with a dilemma involving a job and/or family business – plus an adverse emotional trauma with a third person who then helps contrive a happy ending. Got it?

Meet charismatic Chris Cole (Zac Efron), an obnoxiously self-absorbed Hollywood movie star who brow-beats Zara (Joey King), his beleaguered 24 year-old assistant. She yearns to be a film producer and lives with her widowed/famous writer mother Brooke Harwood (Nicole Kidman) in a picturesque Malibu beach house.

Although Zara’s valiantly trying to salvage Chris’s current project – best described as Die Hard meets Miracle on 34th Street meets Speed – most of her time is spent on mundane errands like delivering gifts for womanizing Chris’ soon-to-be-dismissed girlfriends, grocery shopping and picking up his dry cleaning.

When fed-up Zara abruptly quits, Chris drives to her home to try to convince her to come back. But Zara’s elsewhere, tediously confiding in her best-friend Genie (Lisa Koshy).

So Chris shares enough tequila shots with Brooke to proceed to the bedroom, where Zara eventually catches them ‘in flagrante delicto.’

Stunned to find her middle-aged mother in bed with her much younger boss, Zara goes berserk, begging Brooke to end the affair immediately. Which doesn’t happen – particularly after Brooke confides in supportive Leila (Kathy Bates), her astute editor/wise mother-in-law.

Shallowly concocted by debuting screenwriter Carrie Solomon, it’s clumsily directed by Richard La Gravensese, who desperately tries to breathe life into a mundane romantic fantasy that’s filled with beautiful, privileged people wearing stunning ‘designer’ clothes, cavorting on lavish sets.

Problem is: Complete by-the-numbers predictability, including celebrating a snowy Christmas in a secluded mountain cabin.

FYI: Nicole Kidman previously starred with Zac Efron in The Paperboy (2019); she is actually 20 years his senior but – with her svelte figure and extensive cosmetic enhancement – that age difference barely registers.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, A Family Affair is a tepid 3, streaming on Netflix.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.