It’s a pleasure to see a movie where stereotypes play a less important role than real relationships. In this movie an art dealer from Up North visits her husband’s family from Down South for the first time. Instead of a vacuous comedy or a “feel good” learning-to-get-along movie, we get something much deeper: a realistic investigation of how extended families sometimes bring culture clashes into very tight focus.
In this movie the clash at first seems to be between young urban sophisticates and a conservative “bible belt” small-town family. Instead, the movie focuses on the real problems people have in communicating, and instead of making fun of small town Southern ways, the director lets us see a realistic extended family where, warts and all, we recognize a bit of ourselves and our own relationships.
So much of this movie rings true it’s hard to single out one instance or performance for special attention. One of my favorite scenes was watching the son from Up North singing at the church meeting and watching his wife’s incredulous reaction. Another was the baby shower and how the family deals with an unexpected guest.
The only unrealistic aspect of this movie, I thought, was the house where most of the action occurs. It just didn’t look to me like a house where a family had grown up and where grown children were still staying — it was a but too clean, pristine, and non-shabby. Otherwise, everything else rings true.