Parents' Guide to

The Family Fang

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Compelling, mature dramedy about family dysfunction.

Movie R 2016 105 minutes
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Based on the novel by Kevin Wilson, THE FAMILY FANG is an unflinching look at what it's like to come of age as the child of very eccentric parents. As Tolstoy wrote, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." And the Fangs are indeed unhappy in their own particular -- and deeply compelling -- way. Directed by Bateman with a deft, sensitive touch, this drama has humor mined from pain in its DNA, and it will resonate with many viewers, even if they didn't grow up with eccentric artists.

The shadows of Baxter and Annie's creative, self-involved parents loom large, but the movie doesn't rely on cheap shots that diminish the layers of a difficult-but-loving parent-child relationship. A mystery plot thread that runs through the film echoes the mysteries inherent in the way we all relate with our families of origin: Do we ever really know who our parents are? And are we just extensions of them? If so, how do we separate?

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