Dr. Donna Copeland’s
All Relative brings up a very important question about truth. Is it always best to tell the truth, even when you haven’t been asked a question? I think the film, directed by J. C. Khoury, deals with this issue reasonably well in the most difficult of circumstances. The protagonist Harry (Jonathan Sadowski) is recovering from a failed relationship and meets a woman, only at the urging of his buddy Jared (Al Thompson) at the bowling alley and is immediately entranced by Grace (Sara Paxton). However, it seems that she has quasi-committed to someone else, so he must adjust to their just being friends. When he is feeling some remorse about it and confiding to a bartender at a bar later, an older woman (Connie Nielsen) offers to buy him a drink and they begin a conversation that ends up being more than that.
Time passes though, and soon he is meeting up with Grace again, thrilled that her commitment with the other man didn’t pan out. Soon, the two are in the car to visit her parents in Westchester. He is hoping for an offer from an architectural firm, one of which is one her father Phil (David Aaron Baker) is associated with. They arrive, and there is a major surprise; however, Phil is very cordial, and seems to take to Harry instantly. As the weekend progresses, things get more and more uncomfortable, and finally dissembles.
That’s because all the main characters have to deal with something extremely uncomfortable. The filmmakers do a good job in working things out, nevertheless, although there may be disagreements about how they resolved it. J. C. Khoury, writer/director, can be praised for bringing this issue up in a film, because I think it is extremely relevant. We all generally want to adhere to truth, and think that is the best ideal position; but I personally think there are times when it is best not to volunteer the truth. Is this film an instance of one?
At any rate, the actors (Sadowski, Nielsen, Paxton, Thompson, Baker) perform beautifully, and we can relate to each one of them in turn.
It is all relative, right?
By Donna R. Copeland
JONATHAN SADOWSKI CONNIE NIELSEN SARA PAXTON
It should have been called “All the Same” or “All Related.” I was into this film in the first 20 minutes; it seemed like a script that was interested in pursuing a young man’s interest in an older mature woman over a younger blond bimbo. The juxtaposition had me intrigued. Connie Nielson (Gladiator) is looking better than ever; the vibe is good. Then, like screeches from a Hitchcock film, it goes exactly where it shouldn’t, the same place Prime, Adore, Your Sister’s Sister, The Judge, Rumor Has It, In the Land of Women, and The Joneses have all gone before. I swear I couldn’t hear anything else these characters were saying; it became complete white noise. The only thing that remained in my head for the for the remainder of the film was naming the movie titles of the films from which it was ripped.
On an innocent night of bowling, nearly a year after his fiancé cheated on him, Harry (Sadowski) is encouraged by his wing man to talk to the skinny blond on the next lane. Harry and Grace (Paxton) get to know each other, but after he walks her home she reveals she is seeing someone else. Drowning his sorrows at a local hotel bar, Harry gets noticed by a middle-aged woman in red, Maren (Nielson). She tells him he shouldn’t drink alone, and before you know it they are having meaningless sex in her room. Weeks later, Harry has pursued the blond bimbo until he has won her heart and is finally going to meet her parents. Guess who her mother is.
All of Nielson’s channeling 1989 Kim Basinger playing Vicki Vale is wasted, poof, gone. The minute the cat is out of the bag and the awkwardness between Harry and Maren begins, this woman in red turns into a Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy character. My first thought of the best friend being written like an American Pie character, quickly becomes the least of All Relative’s problems. The nosedive is so severe, so obvious, so boring that unless you missed all the films I named above and live in a bubble, this stereotypical cliché is a one-trick pony all the way to the gate.
If there is to be a redeeming quality to the film—and admittedly I wasn’t interested in looking for it after I had thrown up my hands in disgust—it would be Maren’s line of, “Sometimes it takes almost losing someone to realize how much they mean to you.” What begins as a smart ironic comedy turns into something Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl might stay in. Yuck! This is just not an interesting film; it’s contrived, lazy, and pathetic when there could have been so many different paths.
Final Thought – You have already seen this movie, more times than you realize.
By: Dustin Chase