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Movie Review

Immediate Family

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and adult situations

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Better than Average
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Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Cover Graphic from Immediate Family
Featuring: Glenn Close, James Woods, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kevin Dillon, Linda Darlow
Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Producer: _____
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

“Immediate Family” is a dramatization of a childless couple’s journey through fertility treatments and adoption. It’s quite accurate in technical details, well acted, and honestly reflects the frustrations of infertility.

Michael and Linda Spector (James Woods, Glenn Close) are the couple in search of a baby. A collage of short scenes characterizes their fertility clinic activities and their relationships to their friends who have children. Eventually, they advertise for an “open” adoption and are answered by Lucy Moore (Mary Stuart Masterson).

There’s no on-screen sexual content. Rather, we get to see a concrete result of irresponsible sex—a baby born to two young people who are both still living at home and who have enough problems as it is. Other than one string of obscenities by the baby’s father during a frustrating moment, profanity throughout the film is scarce. There’s a discussion of abortion by the three major characters, and none of them expresses a particularly negative view of it (of course, the Spectors at that point are trying to be vanilla-flavored and say nothing that might upset the birth mother lest she back out of the arrangement). I rate this film highly, for its favorable portrayal of adoption.

Side note on fertility treatments: The clinic scenes are generic. We’re not shown much, other than Michael providing a specimen with help from a porno magazine (off-screen) and Linda being greeted on the exam table by a doctor who can’t remember her name. Were it not for one offhand remark by Michael, we could assume that their treatment might just be sperm concentration and direct injection. But with the remark, we know that it’s actually In Vitro Fertilization. It may seem strange that fertility clinics and the organizations they sponsor are often at odds with the prolife movement. This is because in the highly competitive fertility business, bottom-line results (rapid successful pregnancy) are sometimes the only measure of success. Many couples are either not fully told what’s being done to them or are pressured to submit to procedures they do not agree with, including the use of anonymous donor sperm and/or In Vitro Fertilization with multiple implantations each month (because most test-tube embryos will die). Conservative Christians who are considering fertility treatment should first talk to a medically knowledgeable person or organization that shares their beliefs.

Side note on adoption: Even with its drawbacks, including the risk of the birth parents backing out (that possibility is covered in this film), adoption fills a great need and is one of the most noble things a person can do. Partly because of abortion on demand, it’s not as easy to adopt in the U.S. as it used to be. But there are many special needs children (biracial, handicapped, drug-addicted) and foreign children who need homes. Some foreign adoptions are comparable in cost to stateside adoptions, and special needs adoptions are “discounted” (that doesn’t make the children into a commodity, it just means there’s an incentive for those who will do what others will not do).

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