Plot: Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her son attend the wedding of her sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Margot constantly points out everyone’s shortcomings, including her sister’s soon-to-be husband Malcolm (Jack Black), all while she is dealing with her own life falling apart.
Who’s it for: Did you see “The Squid and the Whale”? If you liked that then you know what you are getting into … dysfunction, and a lot of it.
Expectations: Noah Baumbach’s “Kicking & Screaming” is the best film about dealing with life after college. I was slightly disappointed with “The Squid and the Whale” because it was more depressing than I had expected.
Nicole Kidman as Margot: Margot drove me crazy and Kidman was absolutely brilliant at it. For whatever reason, I have this perception of Kidman being a little icy, and Baumbach brings that out and then some. Everyone has a person in his or her life who constantly gives his or her opinion, and Kidman plays it perfectly … even though it can drive you nuts.
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Pauline: Jason Leigh has a great deadpan delivery when she talks nonchalantly about her torrid past. Pauline is in the unfortunate role of being smart enough to realize she shouldn’t let her sister have this power over her, but still can’t control it.
Jack Black as Malcolm: Black is more than just his moustache, which is great to see. He goes from quiet to explosive and even though you end up liking him, there is part of you that’s worried about that temper.
Talking: “Well, make sure you can handle rejection. I can’t. For me, expectation just turns to disappointment. So ultimately, I’d rather not try.” These are the deadpan lines you can expect from this film.
Sights and sounds: On purpose, the film is gloomy. There is rarely sunlight. And if you haven’t had a chance to see Black’s impressive gut lately, don’t worry, you’ll be able to cross it off the list.
Noah Baumbach is the king of dysfunction. We constantly see films about war, love, aliens, so why no films about how insanely uncomfortable family can be with one another? Sure, this is not a film for everyone, but it’s a chance to see some brilliant performances and, in an odd way, it should make you feel uplifted at the end. At least you only have to spend a couple of hours with Margot this holiday season.
Overall Grade: 8