Coming off as a cross between a Hallmark TV movie and an “American Beauty”-esque dark comedy/drama about dysfunctional family life, this tale proves a surprisingly likeable if somewhat schmaltzy family drama with the good talent helping to overcome what is at best an average script.
The core of this film is the relationship between a dying father trying not to repeat the mistakes his father made (a fact he refers to over and over again) and a punk gothic rebellious son who likes auto-erotic asphyxiation as well as self-loathing to a degree that makes me look positively cheery. Both actors prove their worth with Christensen make a solid (but not memorable) debut which holds its own against an increasingly ill looking Kevin Kline whilst the ladies of the team – the classy and warm Kristin Scott Thomas and the surprisingly spunky and fun Jena Malone keep it all together and flowing smoothly.
Not so impressive are the supporting characters, from a wasted part by Jamey Sheridan as a useless ‘new husband’ of Thomas, Mary Steenburgen as the ass showing (albeit a great ass for her age) nosy neighbour, Scott Bakula in a totally forgettable cameo, and the remarkable but still relatively unknown Ian Somerhalder as a ‘pimp’ friend of Hayden.
The plot is also pretty shonky with the clumsy title metaphor (so visible and blatant to hide the fact there is not much other subtext), but there’s a collection of fun scenes ranging from the opening to a shower sex scene (even at a well-educated 16 years old I don’t think I ever ‘lost control’ like that lol). Others like a mad neighbour upset with the building’s height don’t click sadly. As the film progresses things get more predictable with the ending proving as you’d expect (there’s an oddly large number of scenes in sunlight in this movie) and at 124 minutes its about 20 minutes too long, but still its a nice little tale better suited to the small screen.