Review: ‘Stuart Saves His Family’

It isn't good enough, it isn't smart enough, and, doggone it, most people won't like Stuart Saves His Family. This feeble comedy isn't the worst pic ever to be spun off from a Saturday Night Live sketch - It's Pat! maintains a firm grip on that dubious distinction - but it is woefully lacking in the humor and charm needed to attract mainstream audiences.

It isn’t good enough, it isn’t smart enough, and, doggone it, most people won’t like Stuart Saves His Family. This feeble comedy isn’t the worst pic ever to be spun off from a Saturday Night Live sketch – It’s Pat! maintains a firm grip on that dubious distinction – but it is woefully lacking in the humor and charm needed to attract mainstream audiences.

Stuart Smalley, the lisping self-help specialist created and portrayed by Al Franken, simply isn’t amusing or interesting enough to sustain a feature. And two-thirds of the way through, pic suddenly becomes a maudlin drama about Stuart’s intervention on behalf on his hard-drinking father (Harris Yulin).

Loosely based on Franken’s book of Stuart’s daily affirmations Stuart introduces the title character as an affable and vaguely androgynous New Ager who offers advice and affirmation on a Chicago public-access TV show. Unfortunately, even his most supportive sponsor, played with attractive sincerity by Laura San Giacomo, can’t help Stuart when he goes home to Minnesota to ‘save’ his highly dysfunctional family.

Franken gives a two dimensional portrayal of a one-note character, which gets exceedingly tedious by pic’s midway point. Tech values are better than they have to be.

Stuart Saves His Family

Production

Paramount. Director Harold Ramis; Producer Lorne Michaels, Trevor Albert; Screenplay Al Franken; Camera Lauro Escorel; Editor Pembroke Herring, Craig Herring; Music Marc Shaiman; Art Director Joseph T. Garrity

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1995. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Al Franken Laura San Giacomo Vincent D'Onofrio Shirley Knight Harris Yulin Lesley Boone

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