A Family Affair Synopsis

“A Family Affair” is a low-wattage romantic comedy with characters whose color-by-numbers personalities and motivations shift randomly to match a predictable scenario. As with last month’s streaming romance “The Idea of You,” this film stars a stunning Oscar-winning actress as a middle-aged woman who falls for a much younger superstar performer, with all of the following antics.

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron play award-winning author Brooke Harwood and superhero franchise star Chris Cole.

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron play award-winning author Brooke Harwood and superhero franchise star Chris Cole, whose meet-cute is that Brooke’s 24-year-old daughter Zara (Joey King) is the movie star’s long-suffering personal assistant, on call 24/7 for everything from picking up his dry-cleaning and groceries to just-in-time delivery of the diamond stud earrings he gives to the girls he dates as a break-up present. Zara perceives Chris as self-absorbed and helpless, yet she stays with him in the hopes that he will keep his commitment to boost her career.

Brooke's 24-year-old daughter Zara (Joey King).

Zara still lives with Brooke, a widow of 11 years. They are both very close to Leila (Kathy Bates), Brooke’s loving and supportive mother-in-law and Zara’s grandmother.

Zara ultimately gets fed up and quits her work, just as Chris is ready to begin filming the next installment of his popular “Icarus” series. Chris visits Zara’s house to encourage her to return. He meets Brooke, and they quickly begin pulling each other’s clothes off, just in time for Zara to arrive home and see them in flagrante delicto. This leads to what is supposed to be a funny scenario with Zara retching. It isn’t.

As horrified as Zara is, she agrees to return to work for Chris in exchange for an associate producer credit on his new film and a guarantee that he will never meet her mother again. He fulfils the first promise but not the second, resulting in the expected issues and conflicts.

There are no surprises here, but screenwriter Carrie Soloman has some fun with the movie industry backdrop, resulting in a few sharp remarks and brilliant moments. The opening montage that portrays Chris as a great star strikes all the right notes, from magazine covers (GQ, Vanity Fair) to rumours about his personal life to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an appearance on “Hot Ones.” In an example of art imitating truth, a scene with Chris taking an ice bath was inspired by real-world Zac Efron’s bulking routine for “The Iron Claw.”

Zara knows the photographers outside his gate by first name. The latest ‘Icarus’ franchise picture, frequently touted as ‘Die Hard’ meets ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ with a little bit of ‘Speed,’ is directed by a French lady who does not understand English, and Chris has to re-shoot a scene since a gun cannot be in the trailer for a PG-13. When Zara gets lost in traffic and arrives late to the restaurant where Chris intends to break up with his fiancée, he laments that the wait forced him to think of too many things to say. The large pink robot statue in Chris’s home is just the type of costly crap that a young man who has unexpectedly become wealthy would consider cool.

However, the concept of a show biz attractive kid who is more lonely than entitled has become tired, and this film badly needed to reinvent it. After establishing Chris as self-absorbed and not very bright, we are asked to believe that he and an award-winning novelist with shelves of books would bond over her, explaining that the character he is famous for is named after the Greek myth of the boy who flew too close to the sun, promise each other meaningless sex, and then develop an enduring romance.

Their connection fails to fulfil even the modest standard for a suspended-disbelief romantic comedy. Though King does her best to appear frantic, nervous, and horrified, Zara’s best friends, played by Liza Koshy and Sherry Cola, are more alive and intriguing than she is. The final segment is quite weak, featuring an unnecessary mix-up, a late reality check, and a zigzag into a Hallmark-channel-style cosy white Christmas. The low point is a startling confession that appears to be intended to make the Brooke/Chris link more credible, but it also appears to be the type of spontaneous punch-up that Zara and her screenwriter friend would avoid.

1 thought on “A Family Affair Synopsis”

  1. The movie really stank. Nicole Kidman no longer looks like Nicole Kidman – something about weird eyebrows and really yellow hair and there was zeee-roh chemistry between the two leads. Script was really predictable and lame at that.


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