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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'The Family Plan' Review: Mark Wahlberg Wants To Be The World's Greatest Neva-Dad

The titular family smiling and walking with their hands up
Apple TV+

What if the lesson here was that you should throw away your fruity devices so you don't have to see poorly executed movies? Surely one participating financier and company in particular would love that conclusion. Dad flick of the month is The Family Plan, directed by Simon Cellan Jones and (allegedly fully) written by David Coggeshall, taking the family road movie format to the danger zone. Marks Are Wahlberin... sorry, Mark Wahlberg stars as Dan Morgan who is your casual, chill, suburban family guy while the rest of the family consists of unsatisfied wife Jessica (Michelle Monaghan), a baby, gamer and Twitch streamer son Kyle (Van Crosby) and easily irritable daughter Nina (Zoe Colletti) who's looking for a college to attend. Their cosy life takes a turn when Dan's former secret life as an assassin comes back to haunt him and he takes the group on a road trip to Las Vegas, as he's chased by a familiar foe (Ciarán Hinds).

The building blocks of the movie are almost so laughably basic and predictable that one might rather just not talk about them at all until there ultimately comes a point where they are sadly affecting everything that comes after. This is after all disguising itself as an ''action comedy'', which is the laughable part because both of those things require a level of commitment that is missing here. Dan is a textbook case of a movie dad with secret spy skills but it's meaningless when Wahlberg, or anyone in the cast really, can't bother to commit to proper action set pieces as lazy stunt choreography, nonsensical editing by Tim Porter and lacking intensity instead take the lead. Wahlberg isn't phoning it in by any means dramatically but it's a little too late at that point.

Just like Dan's saviour complex that's been done better in most similar movies, other characters are also simply wish fulfilment, whether that's Jessica's girlboss attitude, Nina's tired woes about college and boys or Kyle's entire ''you just don't get me, dad''-arc. None of the actors are able to add anything substantial and Crosby's twitchy, overeager acting style doesn't help either in that regard.

In terms of the comedy, Coggeshall's scripting can even be decent, though the main cast seem to be having genuine fun together and they're making solid comedic choices, which always elevates the material. The problem with it is mainly how vanilla the writing is otherwise with conflict, dynamics, motivation or general structure; it's especially wild how Hinds' character has no dramatic impact because of it. What is also wild about this kind of screenwriting for studio projects, beyond the fact that they're greenlit in the first place, is the stubbornness of certain leading men—let's call them Wark Mahlberg, Rain Rainolds or Din Viesel—to not have the courage to put their name on the script when they're clearly adding dialogue, moments and even compliments just to boost their egos. When you do that, you're quashing your scripts and the resulting vanity turns the movies into vanity projects rather than compelling stories.

When one is reading into a piece of art with an open mind and curiosity, you have to take the thing for what it is and what Jones and co. have set out to do. It's just hard to take it seriously when everyone involved is only going for the bare minimum, which The Family Plan almost reaches, I guess. Congratulations on making a movie that only boosts your and generic, upper middle-class dads' egos at the same time. That's just incredibly disheartening, that's all.

Smileys: Nothing stands out

Frowneys: Screenplay, originality, editing

Yes, of course a boring kid in a boring family would play the most boring game: 'Valorant'.


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