An equally lighthearted, mid-level generic brand re-working of
roughly the same premise as 1997’s Picture
Perfect, in which Jennifer Aniston’s career gal takes on a fake beau in
order to succeed at work, the Hallmark Channel’s Family Plan finds Tori Spelling working overtime to gin up the appearance
of a perfect little family. It’s a purely cookie cutter-type movie, and flatly shot
to boot by director David S. Cass, but one whose intriguing ensemble cast gives
it a decided qualitative bump.
Jordan Bridges, son of Beau,
nephew of Jeff), and also drafts Stacy’s little girl Nicole (Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin)
to play her own offspring.
Charlie thinks it’s just a one-night gig, but things get
even crazier when Mr. Walcott and his wife decide to move in next door to “her”
house, which is actually Stacy’s abode. Naturally, Buck eventually falls for
Charlie, and she for he, but the house of lies can’t last forever, and Mr.
Walcott is none too pleased when he finds out the truth.
Penned by Richard Gitelson, Family Plan tries to inject a bit of literate, Noises Off-type mania into the proceedings, though thankfully we
don’t have to cope with any physical comedy bits from our star. Spelling is, of
course, characteristically awful. To witness her screw up her face in
concentrated mock “feeling” is a painful experience, certainly in any dramatic
context. Here, though, things are light and airy enough that she’s merely generically bad
without completely sabotaging the
film. Also, even if you’ve never been struck before by poor music in a movie,
you’ll likely notice in cringing fashion the aural accompaniment on display in
Family Plan, so dopey and awful are
That said, for what it is, Family Plan hits its marks, for the most part, with to-scale aplomb.
What really helps make things watchable is Germann — who retains his spot-on
comic timing from both Ally McBeal
and a recent turn in Friends with Money
— but chiefly Bridges, previously so charming in the completely under-regarded little
gem New Suit. (Maybe I’ll write more
about that sometime soon.) He’s got a face at once pliable and sympathetic, and
his easygoing demeanor makes him the perfect — and perfectly relaxed — foil for
a piece like this. For fans of Little
Miss Sunshine, young miss Breslin, too, displays nice chops, though her
role is filled out with only pretty standard jokes.
Though the review copy we screened had none of the
following, the commercial release of the Family
Plan DVD is said to include interactive menus, chapter stops, cast
biographies and filmographies, optional Spanish subtitles and a collection of
preview trailers for other MTI releases. C+ (Movie) D (Disc, speculatively)