Formulaic - but formulaic works, and works very well - when you have engaging and very human characters like the one's in this movie. When formula works, as it generally does here, to call it formulaic is not a criticism.
Interestingly, the film purports to test the boundaries of the meaning of family,but its message is decidedly and very surprisingly conservative (small c). Affirming the value of love and family and the truly important things in life at the expense of freedom and lifestyle and the less conventional notions of relationships between men and women. This turn might be offputting to a few, but it should not be as it gives the movie a heart and emotional content that it otherwise might have lacked.
The film's very last lines, however, are a huge mistake. How can a screenwriter who got so much right get it, in literally the very last two or three lines, so badly wrong? What should have been warm and emotionally satisfying end up feeling mechanical and off message. Subtract those three lines, and the result is a very human movie that should have been more widely distributed than it was.
The film's only other glaring weakness - besides a few moments of slapsticky baby humor and the use of more vulgar language than real people use (unless I just live around very genteel people) - is the film's overreliance on set pece speeches. Most of these actually do work well enough and are strikingly effective,but there are a few times - mostly in the "ski trip" scenes - where they seem too contrived. This is not fatal to the film, but it weakens some of the subtelty of the film's emotions, thereby draining them of their dramatic punch.
Overall, however, this is a film that works. Caveats notwithstanding, the emotions are real and very human. All in all, the viewer could so much worse.
Great movie!!! Soundtrack the best!
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