By Don Simpson | February 27, 2013
Director: Benjamin Epps
Writer: Matt K. Turner
Starring: Olesya Rulin, Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Modine, Joey King, Eddie Hassell, Robbie Tucker, Chloe Bridges, Shirley Jones, Adam Saunders, Chase Maser
Emily (Olesya Rulin) is a 16-year-old who is growing incredibly frustrated with her parents’ lack of parenting skills. Her bread-winning mother, Samantha (Kristen Chenoweth), is a career-focused business executive who never turns off her work; while Emily’s father, Duncan (Matthew Modine), is a painter who seems totally unflustered by the creative (and financial) rut that he has been stuck in for the last several years. Emily and her three siblings (Eddie Hassell, Robbie Tucker and Chloe Bridges) all have much different methods of attempting to earn their highly-distractable parents’ attention, but nothing seems to work.
Director Benjamin Epps’ Family Weekend takes place during a very crucial time for Emily. The film begins as Emily competes in a speed-jump-roping competition at her high school, which leads up to the speed-jump-roping regional finals the following day. Emily is totally dedicated to speed-jump-roping, so much so that most of her classmates mock and tease her about it. Unfortunately, no one in Emily’s family could give a hoot about Emily’s competitive obsession. Not willing to take it anymore, Emily is driven to taking very extreme measures in order to convince her parents that they should be more caring and supportive.
Things get a little — okay, a lot — crazy and the film eventually gets lost in its own web of zaniness. For one, I am still trying to figure out why Emily would allow her arch-nemesis Kat (Chloe Bridges) to observe and record all of the shenanigans. I am also not convinced that Emily’s siblings would be so willing to assist her with the plan, especially as things really begin to spiral out of control. Let’s see… What else? Oh yeah, I also do not understand the criminal offense(s) that Emily may or may not commit. Is it really a crime to do what Emily does?
It really drives me crazy when characters are developed to be such wacky and zany stereotypes. Their extreme behaviors of Emily’s family grow increasingly irritating to the point that they no longer make any sense. Their sole purpose is to incite laughter; I just want them to tone it down a few notches, then maybe — just maybe — they might be a little humorous. Basically, Family Weekend is a comedy that tries way too hard to be funny.
That said, Olesya Rulin is certainly the stand-out of this film. Other than being almost a decade too old to play her character, Rulin nails Emily’s cold and obsessive behavior; her wide-eyed glances, facial expressions and movements are all spot-on. Strangely enough, Emily is the only character who remains somewhat realistic, even if her decision-making skills are a bit wackadoodle at times. Rulin actually makes Family Weekend watchable, maybe even a wee bit enjoyable.