A Family Affair, getting real about love

Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and Joey King in A Family Affair

A Family Affair is a family relationship / romantic comedy starring Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and Joey King. Most rom-coms don’t get complicated until the end of the 2nd act, but this one is complicated from the start.

Zara (Joey King) is the abused and unappreciated assistant for action movie star Chris (Zac Efron). He fires her regularly. One day she finally quits. For real.

He goes to her house trying to get her to come back and discovers her mom is a well known writer and gorgeous, too. Brooke (Nicole Kidman) and Chris start drinking tequila and end up in bed. Cue Zara arriving home and finding them.

You know that old folk wisdom about how you dislike the things in other people that you dislike about yourself? Zara dislikes Chris because he’s self-centered and inconsiderate. Everything is about him. That defines Zara exactly.

I found Zara hard to take.

Zara definitely doesn’t want her widowed mother boinking the movie star, who is 16 years her junior. She knows his track record with women and it’s a trail of broken hearts. She talks to her best friend Eugenie (Liza Koshy) about her problems with Chris, with Chris and her mom, and with her life in general. Eugenie has problems of her own, which Zara fails to notice.

Nicole Kidman, Kathy Bates, and Joey King in A Family Affair

Zara’s grandmother is played by Kathy Bates. Grandmother was her father’s mother, but the relationship between mom and grandmother is more like mother and daughter that mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Grandmother encourages people to move on, love who they love, and be grown ups about letting people find their own happiness. Good advice, but can Zara take it?

Another recent film with an older woman and a younger man, The Idea of You, had a similar arc and resolution to this film. There are an infinity of Hollywood tales about older men and younger women, but two films in the same year about older women with younger men? Amazing!

The chemistry among the various actors was okay, except for Kathy Bates. She was excellent. Overall, I judge this one barely above average. It’s streaming on Netflix.

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