Smoky-voiced actress Kathleen Turner has been surfacing quite a bit on the Hollywood radar lately. Just a few months ago she starred in the one-woman, one office machine, and an assistant show "Red Hot Patriot--The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins" at Los Angeles' prestigious Geffen Playhouse. Then on Friday, May 4, she opens front and center as a repressed housewife in the independent film "The Perfect Family."
The film has a limited theatrical release in Los Angeles and New York only, but it's following a remarkable trend that has made so many indies available to the masses lately: It's also being shown On Demand. That means if you subscribe to AT&T, the Dish Network, Cox, or Direct TV -- to name a few -- you can watch it in the comfort of your own home, at your leisure.
It probably won't be the first thing on your viewing list, however. You're going to have to adjust your Turner expectations for "The Perfect Family." No one stays young, hot, and "Body Heat" sexy forever -- not even in Hollywood, and Turner is no exception.
She's traveled a long, bumpy road from her breakout performance as the sultry Matty Walker. My first awareness of Turner came when I was in the home of a childhood friend, and her divorced father was absolutely giddy at the prospect of going to see "Kathleen 'Yum Yum' Turner" in "Body Heat."
Ever since then, I've always thought of her as "Kathleen 'Yum Yum' Turner." She was the voice of Jessica Rabbit, for heaven's sake. Since then, she's been through battles with alcohol and rheumatoid arthritis, the medication for the latter leaving her overweight and unable to work for several years.
But she's been brilliant in her work since then, as Chandler's estranged, gay father on "Friends"; on "Californication"; and "Nip/Tuck"; and, more recently, onstage as the fiery journalist Molly Ivins, unsurpassable in a fabulous red wig.
Her wig is not so fabulous in "The Perfect Family." In fact, it's one of the most awkward and unflattering wigs in recent memory. It's befitting of a character who is painfully uncomfortable in her own skin, let alone her own hair. Between the bad wig, the mu-mus, and the uninspired script, Turner really took one for the team, albeit a talented team that includes costars Richard Chamberlain, Jason Ritter, and Emily Deschanel.
In "The Perfect Family," Turner plays Eileen Cleary, a self-conscious housewife and mother of a grown son (Ritter) and daughter (Deschanel) who is profoundly dedicated to her Catholic parish. When she is nominated Catholic Woman of the Year, Eileen is forced to deal with the facts that her daughter is a lesbian and her son is having an extramarital affair, as well as many of her own, darker issues.
The film is almost on par with a movie you'd see on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel, so if that sort of fare appeals to you, you'll have no problem catching "The Perfect Family" On Demand. It's certainly not one of Turner's greatest achievements, but she deserves credit for having been through so much and still managing to nail prominent parts for women of a certain age. Opportunities like that are far too precious and few.
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