Every so often, Hollywood calls attention to its obvious creative bankruptcy when it produces two or more movies with the exact same premise in quick succession. Somewhat unbelievably, Joey King has had this happen to her twice. A couple of years ago, she starred in the rather terrible medieval fantasy The Princesswhich preceded Netflix’s suspiciously similar Damsel, starring Millie Bobby Brown. King had the first-mover advantage then, but not this time. She now features in A Family Affair, a new romantic comedy that feels like it was cut from the same cloth as Prime Video’s far superior The Idea of ​​You.

Starring Anne Hathaway as a 40-year-old woman who begins a whirlwind romance with a young pop idol played by Nicholas Galitzine, The Idea of ​​You greatly benefited from the wonderful chemistry between the two actors, and a script that was more than eager to shed rom-com trappings and embrace grown-up drama. A Family Affair, on the other hand, is undone by a slavish loyalty to genre tropes, and absolutely zero vibes between stars. Zac Efron and Nicole Kidmanwho plays the May-December couple at its center.

Also read – The Idea of ​​You movie review: Anne Hathaway is spectacularly good in Prime Video’s steamy romantic drama

a family affair 1 Nicole Kidman as Brooke Harwood and Zac Efron as Chris Cole in A Family Affair. (Photo: Netflix)

Kidman stars as Brooke Harwood, a celebrated author who lost her husband over a decade ago, but hasn’t dated anyone since. Efron plays Chris Cole, a self-centered movie star who is more concerned about his ‘iconography’ than cultivating genuine relationships. But neither of them is the protagonist of A Family Affair; the movie is confusingly presented, instead, through the perspective of King’s character. She plays Zara, the long-suffering 24-year-old personal assistant to Chris. Brooke happens to be her mom.

After having had enough of Chris’ unreasonable demands one day, she quits in a huff and vows to never return. He’d kept her around for years with false promises of a promotion, but would undermine her at every turn, ignoring her career rational advice and having her perform menial tasks for him instead. When we first meet her, Zara is being berated by Chris on the phone for running late to his break-up. He has a ritual of sorts where he gifts the women he’s dumping a pair of expensive earrings to soften the blow. She was supposed to bring them to him. She also fetches his laundry, his morning coffee, and on one off-screen occasion, fresher air. But she doesn’t get so much as a nod of acknowledgment when she puts in her papers. She’s certain that he wouldn’t last a day without her.

Festive offer

She’s right; Utterly bamboozled without his favorite minion, Chris resolves to get her back the very next day. He shows up unannounced at the lavish Los Angeles home where Zara lives with her mother, but discovers that she’s out. Brooke, on the other hand, is very much in. A bottle of tequila is opened, pasts are discussed, and one thing leads to another. Long story short, Zara walks in on them in bed, and is understandably aghast. She explicitly forbids them from taking the fling any further, but if they listened to her, we wouldn’t have a movie, would we? The trouble is that writer Carrie Solomon and director Richard LaGravenese do the bare minimum in creating characters that you can get behind, because at various stages, the movie timidly expects you to root for them all. It doesn’t have the courage to point out the obvious human flaws in these characters, and projects each of them, instead, as being unquestioningly servile to the wafer-thin script.

Read more – Ricky Stanicky movie review: John Cena overcompensates for Zac Efron’s low-energy performance in Prime Video’s poorly directed comedy

a family affair 2 Nicole Kidman as Brooke Harwood, Zac Efron as Chris Cole, and Joey King as Zara Ford. (Photo: Netflix)

We aren’t supposed to question Zara’s incessant whining and general nosiness. We’re expected to believe Brooke and Chris when they claim that their relationship isn’t a meaningless fling. But it doesn’t work. Zara is an uncommonly irritating character, and in all honesty, she has no business being the protagonist in the first place. We’re supposed to detest Chris for being so mean to her, but because Efron plays him like a lovable goof, it’s impossible to take him seriously. It’s quite obvious that he means her no harm, so when Zara forbids her mother from pursuing a relationship with him, you wonder why. Not because they’re eventually going to end up together, but because the movie hasn’t done enough to tell you why he’s like that. a red flag.

There’s a scene in which Zara narrates stories of all his problematic behavior to her mom, but because we haven’t seen it with our own eyes (and also because Zara herself can’t be trusted) her words of caution fall flat. It’s a frustrating position to put the viewer in. Should we root for Chris and Brooke, or should we side with Zara? A Family Affair would’ve felt like a wasted opportunity in any case, but with The Idea of ​​You still fresh in everybody’s minds, it can’t help but feel like stale leftovers.

A Family Affair
Director – Richard LaGravenese
Cast – Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Joey King
Rating – 1.5/5