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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia • 125

Atlanta, Georgia
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Friday, March 29, 1996 PI3 WEEKEND PREVIEW Atlanta Journal The Atlanta Constitution Tamily gives culture gap a dressing-down By Eleanor Ringel FILM EDITOR deathbed con- "A Family Thing" Starring James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall. Directed by Richard Pearce. Rated PG-1 3 for language and adult themes. At metro theaters. Ratings range from one to four stars.

"There's only one way to mean True, we've seen Jones' huggy-bear act and Duvall's jut-jaw cracker strut before, but it's still a pure pleasure to be in their company. They may not be brothers of the skin, but as they learn they are brothers under the skin, their good-hearted journey toward mutual acceptance and respect is the stuff that gives Buchanan and his ilk nightmares. 1 1 fession- dying wish kicks things off in "A Family Thing," a likable, often touching comedv ily" premiered. But the film's simple humanity and humor ultimately win you over. And there are some decidedly uncutesy, cut-to-the-quick moments.

When Earl, a stiff-necked redneck if ever there was one, mutters the N-word, Ray nails him with a look that would wither all the cherry blossoms in Washington. "I didn't mean it like that," Earl blusters, and Ray replies with deadly authority, EZZ Jbuoyed considerably by the pow-ijerhijiise presences of James Earl United Arklts Jones and Duvall put it over. James Earl Jones, Robert Duvall reveal their jjones ana KoDert uuvan. 1 I say "presences" rather than performances because Richard ijPearce's film is too Of paper-thm to support either ac L. -a.

A. -it a. i iTor ai iuu xorce, lei aione together. Earl Pilcher Jr. (Duvall, looking 10 years younger and tractor-rRulV jnean) is an average blue-ij guy from an average small 4 in Arkansas.

Earl's life t'l jiges completely when his 'ii'jtalnal mother leaves him a posthumous letter with a sur-f prigjrig revelation: His real mom wfejan African-American wom an ner oest mena wno was fSped by his father (James Harwell) and later died giving birth to jSar.The letter includes a from-thgrave request that he "find your brother and know him as youjr family." So Earl drives to Chicago to fieek out a cop named Ray Mur-iidotk (Jones). Ray may not be l.appy to see his half-brother, but she's hardly surprised. His side of hfamily has known about liarl's parentage for decades. I i Through a series of increasingly contrived incidents, Earl is forded to remain in Chicago. Further, he must rely on Ray's reluc A tant hospitality to the delight Ray's elderly Aunt (a de- ightful Irma P.

Hall), for whom family is family, no matter what, find, to the consternation of Ray's son', Virgil (Michael Beach), who Wnders what's up with this White guy in their home. 'The picture sags badly in its midsection as Ray and Earl work out their lovehate relationship. At times, it resembles a third installment of "Grumpy Old Men," sprinkled with "relevant" racial sights that may have had some 'bite, back when "All in the Fam A mc. 4mm -K hlMr 'l Walt Disney Co. kitten Oliver learns some eeGIst to "WN tiot MZS A Street smarts from Dodger in joiiver Company." -Ill VrffJi kiowi.oom II f.

The Science ot Good Health. MEMBERSHIPS PRIZE PACKS A 1 A STEREO HOME PLUS TICKETS TO tfmC. THEATRES ii mvt AVI IBBn 11 THEATRE SYSTEM BOMBER JACKET II A 1 W1 I Oliver Company Andrew and company thought "Oliver Company" was Just swell and since Andrew is 5. 1 must defer, in part, to his ixpert opinion. However, adult con-fjoisseurs of Disney animated magic will be bored silly or downright disgusted by this slight tale, very slightly based on Twist." Oliver is an drphaned kitten and Fagin's gang is a ljunch of Manhattan mutts, most of Whom are more crudely drawn (and fcrudely acted) versions of the jailhouse Crowd in "Lady and the Tramp." Their feader, the Dodger, is an uninspired Variation on the Tramp (voice by Billy Jbet, who sings several bad songs).

Of all die feature cartoons made since the j-- htM. fiays of classic Disney, this is the worst. The animation is jerky and flat; so are lie characters (with the sole exception bf Bette Midler's pampered poodle), frhey have neither the jazzy fluidity of I lot Dalmatians" nor the cuddle-lus-liousness of "Lady and the Tramp" or Bambi" or even "The Fox and the llouiid." Take the kids, if they insist, tn.nn tut find yourself something else to see vhlle they're in there. At metro theaters. Eleanor Ringe 13 lJ TrlpIsFesture PSSStS!) Star Cast! HiehHtRitlni -n 1 urn 12-30 mmu.

11). 1 -7c 19:15, i a 1, 303 WACHTBFI KD. AT CORNER 4 Of I. PACES HkSJ 237-2430 1 lArriftowfVIRYNiTn rfrr i Om.

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