1980s sex symbol Kathleen Turner gets her first leading role in a decade as passive-agressive wife and mother Eileen Cleary. So deeply involved she is in her Catholic parish that her priest (Richard Chamberlain, in dead-on casting — nudge, wink) nominates Eileen for the Catholic Woman of the Year award. At the ceremony, the winner will receive absolution of all sins from the visiting archbishop of Dublin.
Eileen looks to be a shoo-in, with the only thing standing in her way being her longtime nemesis (Sharon Lawrence, TV’s Drop Dead Diva), dating back to third grade. Well, that and the true nature of Eileen’s family members, which she not only tries to suppress, but ignore and deny:
• that her husband (Michael McGrady, TV’s Southland) is a recovering alcoholic;
• that her daughter (Emily Deschanel, TV’s Bones) is a pregnant lesbian; and
• that her son (Jason Ritter, A Bag of Hammers) is divorcing a wife he doesn’t love for a salon owner he does.
“Who cares if you’re happy?” Eileen says at family dinner. “You need to do the right thing.”
Of course, they are doing the right thing, simply by being true to themselves. It’s Eileen who’s the hypocrite, as are fellow parishioners pressuring her into an unrealistic ideal.
Anne Renton’s directorial debut has lots of things to say about wrapping one’s hatred under a cloak bearing the label of Christianity; I only wish she had confronted them without becoming so ... well, preachy. Subtle, the film is not, despite its Hallmark-card veneer.
The Perfect Family is also not a bad film — just a mediocre one. The real reason to see it would be for a reminder of Turner’s acting talent. —Rod Lott