Review - We are family: and we make a dysfunctional film

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
quick review:

We Are Family of a little sister called Cliche, big brother Predictability and brat teenage sister, Implausibility. Our big daddy is Mr. Patronizing Dialogue and soccer mom is the Great Indian Kangan. Oh yeah and our stepmom is Stepmom.

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We Are Family...hmmm the name still gave me the creeps as I entered the theater. Shrugging it off, I settled myself in for a cushy, melodramatic, soap opera - the English version of which I've seen. I wondered as I walked out, "Does one well-made teary scene, warrant a 'good' opinion?" I didn't have the heart to write-off a film for its thousand flaws when it managed to have one scene that touched me because it was written, performed and directed well. Even if most of the emotion is because of the way I identified with the situation, "Oh my God! What if I'm dying and I have to tell my kids about it?" boo-hoo-hoooo-tissue-please Ok, now that we are done with the 'credit where it's due bit', I feel liberated and let the 'ripping apart' begin!

We'll start soft, just like the film. It is a mature concept and the big picture is actually non-standard considering the typical Hindi family stories. When you start watching Stepmom you feel like you have started reading a book from the middle of a chapter. We Are Family sort-of covers that gap and gives a more rounded beginning. Also, the missing backstory of the three main leads, from Stepmom, is provided briefly. And the short one or two line descriptions work perfectly. And the stage is set for a fine melodrama...or not.

The performances aren't what I feared - shrieks and shrills or over-the-top. But they fail to move or get you interested, let alone involved. Mom-type Kajol; strong yet unsure, Kareena Kapoor and hunk dad Arjun Rampal show you their dilemma and the struggle, but none of them make you don't feel for them. Maybe because the characters have flaws and they are not necessarily good human beings. But they are not bad enough to hate. Awesome gray characters I've always been waiting for, but they still seem out of a book, not real human beings. And it is difficult to point out what exactly didn't work in the writing and execution of these three characters.

The kids on the other hand are pretty much caricatures that are plucked from one filmy stereotype to another. Actually, I got that wrong. Not all three of them are designed that way. The little boy, has absolutely nothing to do. His middle name might as well have been, 'Haven't a clue why I exist.' The writer's cluelessness transcends barriers of the fourth wall to haunt the audience.

I don't think there was any attempt at all to make the film's events unpredictable. The trailer itself gives away the main elements of the film by way of dialogue, sequences, songs or make-up. Moreover, why would one watch We Are Family instead of Stepmom? There is hardly any value addition or Indianization. Unless you count making it with 3 kids instead of 2 and having a "kangan" (bangle) scene.

Oops! How could I forget how they allude to the idea that woman's ultimate aim in life is to get married. And then directly go on to say that being a mother comes with the XX chromosome! Without getting into an argument about the modern woman versus the traditional idea of a woman's role in society, I'd like to say that these concepts are rather regressive. Not to mention that two women who were/are in love with the same guy are shown dancing together. I mean, I'm sure there are many women who'd get along that way, but here it wasn't convincing enough.

The concept of We Are Familyconstantly reminded me of what I remember as a beautiful film, Mere Baad where Rakhee Gulzar plays a mom of four kids. It's a soul-touching film about how she goes about looking for foster parents for her kids after she's diagnosed with a fatal disease. No, We Are Family is nowhere close to being that sensitive, but I suddenly feel like digging that one out. Any pointers for where to start?

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None, except for one scene of teenagers partying and dancing when drunk.
  • Concept: That of children accepting their ill-fate in the form of parents' divorce and mom having a fatal illness..
  • General Look and Feel: This is serious stuff. I wouldn't want my 8 and 6 year olds exposed to the concept of divorce or the fear of their close ones dying for at least another few years.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 3
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 2
  • Screenplay: 2
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 1

We are family - Movie Details

We are family - Trailer

Comments (18)

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Jitaditya:

Yet it is the official remake & probably tht's the only thing positive about it...:D

Roy DSilva:

I review the entire movie in this one scene. Read it to believe it:

Rhea has prepared spaghetti for the kids. The kids throw the spaghetti at her. No, it’s not like just dunking it at her, they actually paintball her with the spaghetti. Finally frustrated, she tells them to stop it or she will smack them. You know what the thirteen year old kid gets up and says? You cannot touch us, you are not my mother.

This is like a thief telling the police officer that they cannot haul the thief to the station even if the thief is caught red handed with money bags bulging out from his knapsack, because ‘he wants to see a lawyer at the crime scene itself.’

Rahul:

How was the Guzaarish trailer?

Annkur:

Was forced to watch this with over 10 family people. Nevertheless the new big cinemas has a cool cone pizza and the DabanGG trailer looked promising! Meetu lets watch Dabangg together, I will come down to Pune for its release, what say?

meetu:

@Roy ha ha! well hitting a child is unacceptable dude, even if you are the parent. :D

@Rahul It didn't screen in the theater I watched it in :(

@moviebhakt :) and about Antardwand, it went out of theaters in Pune by Monday. I want to watch it, will review it if/when it comes out on DVD or TV.

@Annkur chal done! pakka na?

Swetha Ramakrishnan:

Your quick review is the funniest stuff I've read in a while, Meetu :)
It made me laugh out loud in a largely public place!

meetu:

@lost in confusion naah...the filling in the blanks wasn't that good :D

@Swetha glad to bring out a laugh **bows**

priyamvada:

Thankfully I survived We R Family....
and i got goose bumps when I heard my fren saying....what abt a sequel to this....!!!>>
good work meetu!!!!!!!...

meetu:

@Priyamvada :) i'm glad you survived and I don't know what to say to your friend :D

@Pinky ha ha ha

@Harpreet i think your girlfriend is very considerate :D

Bebo:

We are family :: another flop from Kareena Kapoor. She is such a good actress but another flop from Kareena.

kay:

Ok just cause I know that its a copy of a hollywood flick that I have already seen (and enjoyed) gives me a good reason not to waste my time on this movie.

-Kay

Bollywood gossip

TimELiebe:

@Meetu, me and the other US-Based Bollywood film fans only made it through about a half-hour of this film last night. However, I feel compelled to write you and the Entire Indian Film Industry today to let you know that, if you're really suffering from such a dearth of cinematic treacle that you have to import it from America - I will, in the interests of good Indo-American Film Industry Relations, happily ship you all of ours at once!

If I'd known WE ARE FAMILY was a Bollywood version of STEPMOM (which was quite nauseating enough in its Hollywood incarnation), I don't think I would have rented it. The description on Netflix made it sound like more like a film about a divorced Indian woman helping her ex-husband's new wife blend into the family - which would have been interesting, maybe even touching, and certainly more inclusive than the often competitive Western view of The Other Woman is. But I can't decide if some of Kajol's character beats were cultural, specific to her character, or just bad writing - but she came off as petty and unreasonable, in ways that I'm sure weren't intended. (By contrast, Simran in DDLJ's desperate and demanding streak was perfect for her "nice girl breaking with her family for love" character. She had the strength of will to both defy her father, and make Raj be the kind of man his father knew he was under the youthful hijinks.)

Much as I like Kajol and Kareena Kapoor, I really don't need to see them doing these characters - which I would swear were even less well-written than Susan Sarandon's and Julia Roberts's were (and the original was appalling enough, thank you). Nice as it was to see Arjun Rampal pay a hero again, I wish he'd chosen a better movie to do it in.

To borrow a term - what a bunch of bakwas !

meetu:

@TimELiebe wow, this is the first time, I think, when you've disliked a Hindi film so strongly. :) Like Jitaditya pointed out, the saving grace is that the copy is official and not a blatant rip-off being passed along as original to an audience whose exposure to cinema from the world is widening ever so slowly. :)

TimELiebe:

@Meetu - you're right, my original comments may have been a bit...excessive, and I did see it was an official remake of STEPMOM. A big part of it was because I really didn't like STEPMOM, either - and another big part is because I've seen Indian movies handle similar stories with much more grace and warmth.

Actually, I don't think I disliked this movie quite as much as I did GOD TUSSI GREAT HO - another adaptation of an American movie I really disliked. But I was very disappointed, since I'd hoped I was getting a more Indian take on the story than we got....

meetu:

@TimELiebe welcome to the world of Hindi films based on American ones.

TimELiebe:

@Meetu - as my wife likes to say, "Don't follow us - we don't know where we're going either!"

I guess what makes this worse than the DHOOM movies or even KAMBAKKHT ISHQ (which I'll admit holds a special spot in my heart because it was the first masala we saw) is that it wasn't even a Hindi take on STEPMOM - it was STEPMOM....with different actors. Sure Kareena Kapoor is more appealing than Julia Roberts - but that's a low bar to clear!

meetu:

@TimELiebe ha ha ha ha...

Franchesca:

this movie is such a rip off of the American film step mom with julia roberts

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