Together Again for the First Time (DVD Review)21 Sep, 2008 By: Anne Sherber
Prebook 9/24/08; Street 10/28/08
Stars Julia Duffy, David Ogden Stiers, Joseph Lawrence, Kirby Heyborne.
Together Again for the First Time is a new entry into the dysfunctional-family-does-Christmas category. The grown and mostly grown children of an extremely neurotic blended family assemble for a holiday celebration full of emotional landmines, booby traps and bombshells. And, not surprisingly, no one escapes unscathed.
Audrey, the very high strung matriarch, has decided to use the family holiday celebration to try to take her career as a kind of Martha Stewart-like radio talk show host to the next level. Even though she is acutely aware of the tenuous peace that exists between the family’s step-, half- and full-siblings, she agrees to put them all on display for a local news story about making family holidays special.
The results, although disastrous, are hardly unexpected. And the botched TV spot is the impetus for the unraveling of what very few threads bind the family together.
Although Together Again doesn’t cover new ground, several performances set this direct-to-video feature apart from similarly themed pictures.
Stiers is affecting as a man who loves his family but doesn’t always understand them. Heyborne, who resembles Owen Wilson both physically and in his manner, is very good as a man who knows he is walking into the lion’s den by agreeing to come home for the holidays, but who does it anyway. And Lawrence, who is no longer heartthrob Joey but now serious actor Joseph, is almost unrecognizable with his baldpate and his understated acting.
The film takes a bit of the treacle out of the typical family-crisis-brings-everyone-closer-during-the-holidays plot, although there is still plenty left over. But anyone who believes that he or she will lapse into a diabetic coma if forced to watch It’s a Wonderful Life one more time, could do much worse than Together Again for the First Time.