×

The Lost Kennedy Home Movies

Perhaps History should just stay away from the Kennedy family for awhile.

With:
With: Douglas Brinkley, Robert Dallek, Chris Matthews, Evan Thomas. Narrator: Liev Schreiber.

Perhaps History should just stay away from the Kennedy family for awhile. First, the channel commissioned a mind-numbingly dull miniseries it ultimately chose not to air, punting on the project, which wound up on ReelzChannel. Now, after TLC cobbled together “Kennedys’ Home Movies” from a French production, the channel gets there second with the stately “The Lost Kennedy Home Movies,” which struggles with the disparity between being significant and just mildly interesting. Those fascinated by America’s royalty will doubtless find moments to savor, but given the relative heft, two hours proves a bit of a slog.

Narrated by Liev Schreiber (who does such yeoman work on HBO’s sports documentaries), there’s certainly a regal quality to the production’s tone, which consists of footage — some previously unseen — mostly shot by Kennedy friends or the family itself.

Because most of the footage involves the family at play, however, there’s only so much insight to be gleaned from it. John Kennedy wincing because of his back pain; Jack and brother Bobby clowning on camera; Jack playfully cavorting with young women prior to his marriage; a visit to Saigon in 1951; Jacqueline Kennedy riding horses on a Virginia ranch her husband bought for her.

Tidbits about the family’s rich history dribble out along the way, but constructing the entire documentary around these unguarded scenes inevitably proves confining. The Kennedys participated in some of the most momentous events of the 20th century; once you’ve demonstrated they were human — that the brothers enjoyed blowing off steam together, that Jack was effortlessly good looking — there are only so many ways to keep echoing those points.

Not that Engle doesn’t try, and he enlists heavyweight historians Douglas Brinkley and Robert Dallek as talking heads, along with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and journalist Evan Thomas.

Still, if the dramatized “The Kennedys” emphasized the tabloid aspects of the family’s life — the affairs and patriarch Joe’s ruthlessness — “Home Movies” almost overcompensates by focusing so narrowly on these small interludes.

Anyone interested in the Kennedys or U.S. history (an area History, the channel, in its pursuit of younger demos covers less and less) will certainly find something here to engage them. Beyond serving as penance for past programming sins, however, the net result is still a lightweight look at a heavyweight political clan.

The Lost Kennedy Home Movies

Production: Produced by SFM Entertainment in association with Signal Hill Entertainment. Executive producers, Stanley H. Moger, Michael H. Maizes; producer-director, Harrison Engle; writer, Paul Boorstin; editor, Mark Petitfils. 120 MIN.

Cast: With: Douglas Brinkley, Robert Dallek, Chris Matthews, Evan Thomas. Narrator: Liev Schreiber.

More TV

  • Michael Ellenberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon,

    'The Morning Show' Team on Steve Carell's Season 2 Future, Season 1 Criticism

    Although the first season of “The Morning Show” ended on Steve Carell’s former news anchor character, Mitch Kessler, who was fired at the top of the season amid sexual misconduct allegations, finally feeling the weight of what he did, there is no guarantee the second season will see him learn, grow or be around at [...]

  • Kumail Nanjiani

    Kumail Nanjiani on Not Wanting 'Little America' to Focus on the Political System

    Apple TV Plus’s anthology drama “Little America” may not be about politics, but by telling tales of immigrants in a polarizing time, many people feel there is a political undercurrent to its themes. “It is amazing that we are living in a time where kindness, empathy, humanity and shared experience feels like a political statement,” [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Renews 'Mythic Quest:

    Apple TV Plus Renews 'Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet' Ahead of Series Premiere

    Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz’s “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” has been renewed for a second season ahead of its series debut, Apple TV Plus announced Sunday. The half-hour comedy follows a team of developers as they navigate the challenges of running a popular video game. It was inspired by McElhenney’s visit to Ubisoft’s [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Home Before Dark

    Apple TV Plus Mystery 'Home Before Dark' Renewed for Season 2 Ahead of Series Premiere

    “Home Before Dark,” Apple TV Plus’ mystery series inspired by the real-life reporting of 9-year-old investigative journalist Hilde Lysiak, has nabbed an early Season 2 renewal ahead of its series premiere on April 3. Directed and executive produced by Jon M. Chu and created by showrunners and exec producers Dana Fox and Dara Resnik, the [...]

  • 911 Lone Star rob Lowe

    '9-1-1: Lone Star': TV Review

    In some ways, Rob Lowe is a fit for the Ryan Murphy universe. Something about his actorly vanity — so much a part of his star persona that it tends to impact every project he works on — feels lurid and unseemly in exactly the bad-taste way as does much of Murphy’s work. A plotline, [...]

  • Asa Butterfield in Netflix's Sex Education

    Netflix & Sky Strike Multi-Year Deal To Keep Streamer On Service

    Comcast-owned pay-TV operator Sky and Netflix have hammered out a new multi-year deal to keep content from the streaming giant on the service.  Under the new deal, customers of Sky’s set-top box service Sky Q will have the option to opt in for Netflix’s basic plan, which is priced locally at £5.99 ($7.99) per month. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content