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Immediate Family

Sometimes the only distinguishing factor between a big-screen melodrama and a television movie-of-the-week is the cast. If Immediate Family had originally aired on, say, ABC Sunday Night prime-time in 1989 rather than its theatrical release, it might well have starred Jill Eichenberry and Michael Ontkean as a married couple unable to conceive and Justine Bateman as the pregnant backwater teen who offers her unborn child as adoption fodder. Instead, Immediate Family stars Glenn Close and James Woods as the parental hopefuls and Mary Stuart Masterson as the mulleted bearer of fetal tidings. While Close, Woods, and Masterson lend a certain respectable appeal to the drama, it's difficult to imagine TV-caliber stars doing any worse with this tepid material. Barbara Benedek's screenplay may be ripped from the adoption-gone-wrong headlines, but with the exception of a few key moments, nearly every action and reaction is of questionable credibility, as if the script were doctored by aliens. Even worse, though, is that the ultimate message of this movie is the elitist view that poor people simply shouldn't have children. Directed with some restraint by Jonathan Kaplan, save for one truly ghastly scene which may compel you to burn your Van Morrison CD collection. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Immediate Family offers a full-frame transfer (1.33:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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