Immediate Family (1989)

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Released 4-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-Riding in Cars with Boys; Stepmom
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 95:52
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Jonathan Kaplan

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Glenn Close
James Woods
Mary Stuart Masterson
Kevin Dillon
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Brad Fiedel

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Immediate Family is brought to you by Gravox - just add water and mix for an instant movie. It is a by-the-numbers "we can't have a baby, so let's adopt one...and hope we don't get ripped off" story. It features a very strong cast, with Glenn Close and James Woods supported by Mary Stuart Masterton and Kevin Dillon. Despite the fine casting, there is nothing new to be seen in this film. It is hard to imagine what attracted Close to this role, considering that by 1989, she had already appeared in Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction and Jagged Edge.

    Nonetheless, here's a run-down of the basic plot. When you feel you've got the gist, feel free to skip to the technical details. Affluent middle-class couple Linda and Michael Spector (Close and Woods) have a fantastic house by the sea, a flash car, designer clothes and good careers. The only aspect of their lives which remains unfulfilled is the presence of children. Despite the best efforts of modern fertility treatment, they remain childless. This is clearly taking its toll on Linda and they finally resign themselves to beginning the process of adoption.

    Working through an adoption agency, they are contacted by a young unmarried mother-to-be Lucy Moore (Masterton). Her young beau Sam (Dillon) is a dreamer, hoping to make it in the music business. The young couple are, however, smart enough to realise that they do not have the maturity or the means to raise the baby well. Plenty of bonding scenes between Lucy and the Spectors precede the obligatory rush to the delivery room. Unsurprisingly, the young mullet modelling mother has serious reservations about handing over her baby and returns to her small home and small life in Ohio, complete with the new child.

    Despite trying to move on with their lives, the loss of the baby proves to be a terrible strain for Linda and Michael, putting their relationship under pressure. At the same time, looking after the baby proves to be crushingly difficult for Lucy and Sam. By the final reel, the story comes to an all-too-predictable conclusion. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) The sickly-sweet Linda finally gets her way and Ms. Mullet hands over the baby boy.

    Step back behind the tape folks. Go about your normal business. There's nothing to see here... go on now. Immediate Family doesn't have anything new to offer us. The performances of the normally excellent Close and Woods are not actually bad, but they really do seem like they are 'phoning it in. The source material simply does not give any of the cast enough to play with. Diabetics beware - the dialogue is often treacly and the plot has been carved from pure palm sugar. Although there are some very nice tunes mapped into the soundtrack, unless you are a huge fan of one of the cast I cannot see why you would want to spend time watching this schmaltzy and predictable movie.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The overall video transfer of this disc is fairly good, and there are no major defects present.

    The film is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1, which is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    Sharpness is pretty good throughout, although there are some noticeable instances of grain in both dimly-lit and bright backgrounds (for example the sky at 50:45). Colours are somewhat pallid and subdued - the Seattle winter lighting doesn't help out here. Skin tones are realistic. Blacks are deep and solid with no low-level noise, and shadow detail is satisfactory.

    There are no MPEG artefacts of note. Edge enhancement is not noticeable and there seem to be absolutely no instances of aliasing. There is some minor telecine wobble during the opening title sequence. Film artefacts are rare and fleeting, cropping up as a few minor white flecks. They are not distracting.

    There are numerous subtitles available. I sampled the English subtitles and found them to be well timed and generally true to the on-screen dialogue. There are minor edits for brevity.

    This is a single sided, single layered (DVD 5) disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio quality of this disc is satisfactory.

    The English audio track is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at an economical 192 kbps, as are the alternative French, German, Italian and Spanish versions. The surround flag is enabled on this disc.

    Dialogue was always clear and audio synch was fine throughout.

    The original music is credited to Brad Fiedel and is pretty unremarkable. There are some nice pop tunes scattered through the film from the likes of Otis Redding, Van Morrison and The Pretenders and these are appropriately chosen to suit the mood of the respective scenes.

    The soundstage is unsurprisingly very frontal. There is some separation between the front speakers, but the surround speakers are barely noticeable other than for musical support and minor ambient effects such as the wind.

    The subwoofer is unused.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are virtually no extras on the disc.


    The silent menu consists of a couple of small images from the movie. It allows the choice of viewing the main feature, audio set-up, subtitle selection, choosing one of twenty-eight chapter stops or watching the trailers.


    Two trailers are presented for your delight:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this film appears to be presented in a full screen ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack. The limited extras appear to be identical on both versions. It would appear that the Region 4 is the version of choice, due to the original aspect ratio being on offer and slightly better sound encoding.


    Immediate Family takes the talents of James Woods and Glenn Close and squanders them on by-the-numbers schmaltz. There is nothing new to be seen here, and this is worth a rental only if you are particularly absorbed by adoption dramas, or you must see every movie made by the lead actors. A generally mediocre film.

    The video quality is fairly good, but colours are a little subdued and (perhaps intentionally) the overall film feels rather wintry.

    The audio quality is acceptable but unremarkable.

    The extras are negligible.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationONKYO TX-DS484
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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Heartwarming movie - Jan Altair REPLY POSTED
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