It Runs in the Family (2003 film)

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It Runs in the Family
It runs in the family.jpg
Directed by Fred Schepisi
Produced by Michael Douglas
Marcy Drogin
Jesse Wigutow
Written by Jesse Wigutow
Starring Michael Douglas
Kirk Douglas
Cameron Douglas
Diana Douglas
Rory Culkin
Bernadette Peters
Music by Moose Charlap
Paul Grabowsky
Charles F. Sweeney Jr.
Cinematography Ian Baker
Edited by Kate Williams
Distributed by MGM Distribution Co. (United States)
Buena Vista International (Internationally)
Release date
  • April 25, 2003 (2003-04-25)
Running time
109 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $8.2 million

It Runs in the Family is a 2003 comedy-drama movie directed by Fred Schepisi and starring three generations of the Douglas family: Kirk Douglas, his son Michael Douglas, and Michael's son Cameron Douglas, who play three generations of a family. Diana Douglas (née Dill), real-life mother to Michael Douglas and ex-wife of Kirk, plays Kirk's character's wife. The film was a co-production with MGM and Buena Vista International.


The story involves a highly successful New York City family, each with its set of problems, and highlights the difficulties of the father-son relationship. Mitchell Gromberg is dealing with health problems resulting from a stroke. His son Alex works as a lawyer in the firm that his father founded, but is questioning the usefulness of his work and his place in the family. Alex's son, Asher, does not take college seriously and seems lost. The youngest son is 11 year old Eli, who is extremely intelligent, while being socially awkward and is entering a difficult pre-adolescent time.

Alex indulges in a thoughtless and careless brief romantic fling with Suzie at the soup kitchen they volunteer at, and his psychologist wife Rebecca discovers it, threatening their marriage. When Evelyn Gromberg, Mitchell's wife and Alex's mother dies, the family comes together to heal. At Evelyn's funeral in suburban New York, Rebecca tells Alex that she knows about his romantic fling. Alex and Mitchell talk about past hurts.

Back at their home in New York City, Asher is discovered with illegal drugs. Although devastated, Rebecca and Mitchell are supportive and vow to get help for Asher. Mitchell's older brother Stephen dies and he, Alex and Asher give him a farewell send-off. Although he is forced to sleep on the living room couch, Mitchell tells Rebecca that he wants to make peace; she agrees.



In his role as producer, Michael Douglas suggested his mother (Diana Dill), Rory Culkin, and Bernadette Peters for their roles. Fred Schepisi noted that they were originally considering Sigourney Weaver for the part of Michael's wife. "Bernadette [Peters] was a really nice balance, playing straighter than you’d usually see her play..."[1]

Total gross was $7,491,839. In comparison, Michael Douglas' next movie, The In-Laws, grossed $20,453,431.[2]


Critic Steven Holden wrote in The New York Times that the movie is a "surprisingly complex and subtle portrait", and "Besides its laudable reluctance to tie up loose ends, the most courageous thing about It Runs in the Family is its refusal to try to make you love its aggressive, strong-willed characters."[3]

Most reviews, as tallied by Rotten Tomatoes, were unfavorable or mixed; the movie has a "Rotten" rating of 28%, with the site's consensus stating "Despite its gimmick casting, the movie ultimately goes nowhere." Roger Ebert wrote: "But the movie is simply not clear about where it wants to go and what it wants to do. It is heavy on episode and light on insight, and although it takes courage to bring up touchy topics it would have taken more to treat them frankly."[4]

See also


  1. ^ "Interviews. Schepisi, Fred: 'It Runs in the Family'", August 23, 2003
  2. ^ Michael Douglas listing, accessed February 9, 2009
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen."Movie Review: Fathers, Sons, Grandsons, In the Script and Real Life".The New York Times, April 25, 2003
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger "'It Runs In The Family'".Chicago Sun-Times, April 25, 2003

External links

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