Immediate Family

Lucy Moore, The Seventeen-year-old played by Mary Stuart Masterson, is pregnant by Sam (Kevin Dillon), a Guns n' Roses fanatic with no job prospects. Lucy doesn't want an abortion, so a lawyer arranges an open adoption with Linda and Michael Spector, an infertile couple from Seattle.

Problem number 1: Glenn Close and James Woods play the well-meaning Spectors; he's a veterinarian, she sells real estate. Both actors make yeoman efforts to look like they stepped out of thirty-something -- Woods even cuddles a cat It won't wash. I haven't seen such a futile struggle since Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro attempted to pass for average New Yorkers in Falling in Love. Close (Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons) and Woods (Salvador, True Believer) are dynamos, best at portraying driven neurotics. Here, striving to stay life-size, they seem embalmed, zombied out.

Problem number 2: The script, by Barbara Benedek, who co-wrote The Big Chill, has the if-it-can-happen-it-will inevitability of TV soap opera. In an open adoption, a couple can grow close to the birth mother they care for during the last stages of pregnancy and then never see her again. The Spectors grow very close to Lucy. The birth mother, even at the last minute, can change her mind about giving up her baby. Lucy wavers a lot. And so on. The film resonates with the sound of other shoes dropping.

Problem number 3: The directorial touch of Jonathan Kaplan (The Accused) has the subtlety of an anvil. Lucy shows the Spectors a photo of her late mother, who holds baby Lucy in one arm while averting her face to avoid poking the baby with the cigarette dangling from her lips. Later, Kaplan freeze-frames the grown Lucy in the same position with her baby.

Problem number 4: Acting, writing and directing combine to suggest that those with money inevitably make better parents than those without. Immediate Family is selling the slick wonders of carpeting and nurseries with a view. However unintentionally, this movie leaves a viewer muttering, "Yuppie scum."

From The Archives Issue 565: November 16, 1989
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