A Family Affair movie poster

A Family Affair

In theaters June 28, 2024

Rated

,

113 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , ,

The new Netflix rom-com A Family Affair has unfortunately fallen into the category of “twin films.” As defined by Wikipedia, these are “films with the same or similar plots produced and released at the same time by two different film studios.” This phenomenon occurs every year and has notable examples over the past three decades. In 1998, there was a battle of asteroid films with Armageddon and Deep Impact. That same year, Antz competed with A Bug’s Life. More recently, two Pinocchio films were released simultaneously, including Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. Typically, one film in these pairs stands out as superior, which appears to be the case this year on the same streaming platform. Just three months after Netflix released the critically acclaimed rom-com The Idea of You, starring Anne Hathaway, it has now released A Family Affair, featuring Nicole Kidman.

A Family Affair stars Joey King as Zara, an assistant to movie star Chris Cole (Zac Efron), a conceited actor whose success has isolated him from reality. After Zara quits working for Cole due to his disrespectful behavior, Cole visits her home to persuade her to return, only to end up in a romantic entanglement with her mother, Brooke (Nicole Kidman). Brooke, once a popular author who lost her husband years earlier, finds herself feeling relevant again due to Cole’s attention. Despite Zara’s efforts to protect her mother from Cole’s womanizing ways, Brooke begins sneaking around behind Zara’s back, leading to inevitable complications.

The film’s success largely hinges on Joey King’s performance, as the story focuses on her character’s journey of self-discovery. Best known for her role in the Kissing Booth trilogy, King brings humor to the role, but her character’s annoying and unlikeable traits detract from her ultimate redemption. Zac Efron’s portrayal of a movie star does not require much stretch in acting. Kidman and Efron’s chemistry as a couple is unconvincing, in contrast to the natural chemistry between Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine in The Idea of You.

Director Richard LaGravenese defended the chemistry between Kidman and Efron, stating, “I don’t think you create chemistry. It’s either there or it isn’t, and that’s something you roll the dice on as a filmmaker.” However, the lackluster script by first-time screenwriter Carrie Solomon undermines any potential chemistry. While the film boasts a romance between Efron and Kidman, it is the dynamic between Efron and King that appears more compatible on screen.

Many aspects of the film do not work. Odd choices, such as the repeated focus on Zara’s “ICKBTCH” license plate, feel more like product placement than plot points. Certain characters, like Zara’s friend Stella, are introduced without meaningful development. While The Idea of You felt worthy of a theatrical release, A Family Affair seems fitting for a streaming platform.

One of the most frustrating aspects is Netflix’s decision to release A Family Affair so close to The Idea of You. This timing decision is perplexing, especially since A Family Affair was filmed before Efron’s last film, The Iron Claw. Given that the film includes scenes set during Christmas and New Year’s, a late November or early December release would have made more sense.

If you’re looking for a quality new rom-com, Hulu’s The Greatest Hits or the numerously aforementioned The Idea of You are better choices.

A Family Affair is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

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