See It at the Movies




* * * ½ (Joyce)

* * *  (Don)

(Dysfunctional family drama)

Woody Harrelson stars as the dysfunctional father of four who leads his wife (Brie Larson) and kids on an unconventional nomadic journey, looking for the right spot to settle down.

Joyce loved Harrelson's performance as the intelligent but violent and unpredictable father whose mood swings range from giving sage advice to his daughter to wrecking his homesteader house. I also liked his performance but had trouble accepting his character and forgiving him for the way he treated people he loved. He has a serious drinking and smoking problem, in addition to personal problems with his mother, going back to his childhood.

The story is based on the recollections of New York Magazine writer Jeanette Walls and told from her perspective as her father's favorite child who breaks from the family, leaving a life of poverty and uncertainty to become engaged to a wealthy financial advisor. Her father protests the marriage, doing everything in his power to break it up.

The story switches back and forth from Jeanette growing up to finally facing down her father as an adult. The movie switches back and forth from good times to bad, following the mood swings experienced by a driven father who wants the best for his children but doesn't always know how to achieve that goal.

People interested in psychology will have a field day with this movie.

Rated PG-13, with profanity and some violence.


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