It Runs in the Family (2003)

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Released 2-Sep-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Fred Schepisi (Director)
Featurette-Making Of-Family Makes You Nuts
Featurette-All That Grit: Kirk Douglas And The Movies
Deleted Scenes-3
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 104:56
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:38) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Fred Schepisi

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Michael Douglas
Kirk Douglas
Rory Culkin
Cameron Douglas
Diana Douglas
Michelle Monaghan
Geoffrey Arend
Sarita Choudhury
Irene Gorovaia
Annie Golden
Mark Hammer
Audra McDonald
Josh Pais
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Moose Charlap
Paul Grabowsky
Charles F. Sweeney Jr.

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Hebrew Audio Commentary
Russian Audio Commentary
Italian Titling
Turkish Titling
Russian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Despite their vehement protests to the contrary in the DVD extras featurettes, It Runs In The Family is very much a vanity piece. Starring 3 generations of the Douglas family - Kirk, in his courageous return to the screen after a major stroke, Mike and his son Cameron are joined on screen by Mike's mother, Diana and a token Culkin, in this case, Rory in a family dramedy set in New York.

      Alex Gromberg (Michael Douglas) is a successful lawyer who is working in the law firm founded by his father, Mitchell (Kirk Douglas). Although he's been there for years, he's never accepted a partnership. His liberal ideals have seen him run for public office unsuccessfully in the past, and he keeps his political flame alive by volunteering to wash dishes in a local soup kitchen. His beautiful therapist wife Rebecca (Bernadette Peters) and youngest son, Eli (Rory Culkin) share his trendy Tribeca warehouse loft which is about to be invaded for Passover Seder by his irascible father Mitchell (Kirk Douglas), his sharp and witty mother, Evelyn (Diana Douglas), Mitchell's demented brother Stephen (Mark Hammer) and his eldest son Asher (Cameron Douglas).

      As the tension mounts at the dinner table, we see that all is not well in paradise. Asher is failing badly at school, Alex is being sorely sexually tempted at the soup kitchen, Eli is pathologically quiet, and the relationship between Alex and his father is richly strained.

      For the next 100 or so minutes we are confronted with the trials of each member of the family as they try to sort out who they really are in the big scheme of life. This effort is helmed by Australian director Fred Schepisi who has had massive hits in the past with such movies as The Devil's Playground, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Evil Angels, Six Degrees of Separation and Last Orders, so he knows a thing or two about human drama.

      Sadly, all that experience has gone to waste in this production. The characters remain shallow, unsympathetic and uninteresting. We are largely left uncaring about what happens to them, with only very few exceptions.

      Damp, dull and drab, this offering is largely best left to Douglas fans.

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

Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

     The transfer itself is of excellent quality with crisp, bright and well defined scenes glowing from the screen. There is excellent shadow detail and highlights are clean and sharp. There is no low level noise present throughout the production.

     The colour palette is rich and glowing with a wonderful warmth. The scenes at the Gromberg country home are particularly lush and rich.

     MPEG artefacts were extremely rare throughout the transfer. Aliasing was extremely mild and grain levels were very fine. There was minor evidence of dust specks at times, but not to any distracting degree.

     Subtitles were clean, clear and easy to read.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 78:38. It is very subtle and presents no distraction at all.

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


     There are four audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

     Dialogue was consistently clean and clear throughout with no audio sync problems at all.

     The musical score by Paul Grabowsky, who Steve Vizard used to glowingly refer to as The Count, is a sparse but moving piece. Schepisi knows when and when not to use music, and largely the musical bones of the piece were fleshed by ambient music, rather than relying very heavily on scored sections.

     There is an excellent surround sound presence in this film, providing a rich ambient atmosphere to the piece. With the exception of a couple of dance music scenes, the subwoofer was mostly dormant.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The menu design is static with theme music from the film in the background.

Commentary - Fred Schepisi (Director)

     An interesting commentary with Schepisi being very forthcoming about the challenges faced throughout production and the subtleties of the script. It didn't sufficiently flesh out the film to greatly increase my enjoyment of it however.

Featurette - Family Makes You Nuts

     Pretty much a standard lovefest of interviews and excerpts. (28:58)

Featurette - All That Grit - Kirk Douglas & The Movies

     A rather nice little tribute to the big guy. (7:30)

Deleted Scenes

     3 scenes that do go some way to explaining the plot lines a little better.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

     Both versions are equally good, and there is no compelling reason to prefer one over the other.


     Lightweight dramedy that's only noteworthy features are that it incorporates 3 generations of Douglases and is the first time Michael and Kirk Douglas have appeared in a film together. Beyond that, it's a forgettable number entirely.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Monday, April 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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