An indignant teen holds her parents hostage for failing to pay attention to her jump-rope career in strained laffer “Family Weekend.” Imagine a Wes Anderson wannabe distractedly undertaking a remake of 1996′s Jamie Lee Curtis starrer “House Arrest,” and you’re in the movie’s ballpark. The pic is set to open Stateside in the February graveyard, and should stay onscreen about as long as its title.Furious at her type-A mother, Samantha (Kristin Chenoweth); her laid-back artist father, Duncan (Matthew Modine); and their general freakshow of a family, 16-year-old Emily (Olesya Rulin, the first three “High School Musical” entries) spikes Mom and Dad’s wine and ties them to desk chairs in the magnificent Michigan mansion that is the film’s real star. Along for the ride are Samantha’s self-consciously quirky siblings: Lucinda (Joey King), who likes to pretend she’s various iconic film characters (including Iris in “Taxi Driver”); sexually confused Jackson (Eddie Hassell), who’s filming the intervention; and wise-beyond-his-years Mickey (Robbie Tucker), straight from the central casting pool of smart-aleck kids. When Jackson’s footage hits the Web, the standoff becomes a media sensation. Rulin mugs mercilessly, Chenoweth strains to be strident, Modine looks embarrassed and Shirley Jones, as a New Age-y grandmother, seems sagely bemused by the whole thing. The direction by Benjamin Epps, who has an early cameo as a jump-rope judge, shows decent comic timing, but needs to dial the histrionics way down and find a script that has some substance beneath the shenanigans. Tech package is crisp. Pic was sold at Cannes as “Queen Freak,” referencing a compliment paid to Emily; confusingly, only days after its Cockatoo Island Fest preem as “Family Weekend,” it played the Canberra fest as “Queen Freak” once again. According to the helmer, he and the distrib are having a contretemps over the final title.
An Arc Entertainment (in U.S.) release of an Uppercut Pictures presentation of a Footprint Features production, in association with the Bedford Falls Co. (International sales: GRB Entertainment, Sherman Oaks, Calif.) Produced by Adam Saunders, Chris Aronoff. Executive producers, Youmi N. Ma, Gary R. Benz, Todd Olsson. Co-producers, Benjamin Epps, Peter Gail, Valorie Massalas, Ron Digman. Co-executive producers, Brad D. Biggs, Pete Brown, Jeffrey E. Janis. Directed by Benjamin Epps. Screenplay, Matt K. Turner.
Camera (color, HD), Christopher Norr; editor, Colleen Halsey, Epps; music, Mateo Messina; music supervisor, Jenee DeAngelis; production designer, Manuel Perez-Pena; costume designer, Leslie Ann Loughlin; sound (Dolby Digital), Clayton Perry; supervising sound editor, Darren "Sunny" Warkentin. Reviewed at Cockatoo Island Film Festival (closer), Sydney, Oct. 28, 2012. Running time: 100 MIN.
Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Modine, Olesya Rulin, Joey King, Eddie Hassell, Chloe Bridges, Robbie Tucker, Adam Saunders, Shirley Jones, Chase Maser, Peter Gail, Arthur Cartwright, Jordan Mahome, Cindy Chang, Lisa Lauren Smith.