Immediate Family is an ’80s Feel Good picture that bombed in theatrical release, apparently because it made its audience feel queasy instead of good. It has other problems: the wrong actors in the leads and a screenplay that cops out on issues of class, power, and exploitation.
The story — James Woods and Glenn Close are a childless yuppie couple set to adopt a baby from working-class teens Mary Stuart Masterson and Kevin Dillon — is simple and formulaic. But there are more fundamental reasons why Immediate Family will make viewers cringe.
To begin with, Woods and Close carry crippling baggage from their other films. By now they’ve played so many monstrous characters (Close in Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons, Woods in nearly everything) that you just can’t believe them as empathetic and normal; every time one of them twitches you expect Immediate Family to turn into a slasher movie.
The script is oblivious to the moral implications of its story. The class chasm between the couples and the economic and social pressures that make Masterson give up her baby are barely acknowledged. Woods and Close never once worry that they’re using their money and privilege to buy happiness the kids can never achieve.
In the end, they seem more like body snatchers than the warm, wonderful human beings the movie wants us to think they are.
Immediate Family might be worth a rental if your idea of a good time is a Geraldo episode inflated to the proportions of a major motion picture.