February 10, 1992
ONE NIGHT this week, while reading the newsmagazines to the tune of "Inside Edition," I discovered yet another -- ba-boom, ba-boom -- danger of life in the '90s. I'm getting co-dependent on stories about dysfunctional families.I don't know what that means, but I'm sure it's happening.That particular night, my eyes were pressed to an item in New York magazine, the one that asked the epoch-defining question: "Which family is more dysfunctional? The Barrs, the Addamses or the Jacksons?"Before I could process my options, much less make a commitment to one celebrity malfunction over the others, I was distracted by someone on TV announcing that three dancers from "Madonna's dysfunctional 'Truth or Dare' family" are accusing her of being "obnoxious, selfish, loud" and they're suing her for not paying them.
October 27, 2006
It's time to call a moratorium on the dysfunctional-family flick. Narcissistic, adulterous or conflicted moms, distant dads, drug-riddled youngsters - don't we get enough of them on "cutting-edge" TV series these days? Ryan Murphy, who created one of those series, Nip/Tuck, seized on Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs' acclaimed memoir of a loony adolescence, for the comedy-drama opening today. But all he does with this prized dysfunctional-family property is turn it into a crazed Carter-era comic strip: For Better or for Worse on acid.
January 5, 1994
"Birdland," ABC's new one-hour drama starring Brian Dennehy, is a celebration of the dysfunctional, the semi-functional, the unhappily functioning and the just-plain screwed-up. It's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" sanitized and sweetened for prime-time.If you love seeing exhibitions of things that don't work, tune in the premiere at 10 tonight on WJZ (Channel 13).Dennehy plays the chief of a psychiatric unit in an Oakland hospital. He treats the dysfunctional for a living.Tonight's case involves a boy who can't sleep and who recently put his arm through his bedroom window.
December 21, 2007
The Ravens are struggling through an eight-game losing streak, but it could be worse - a lot worse. How? Two words. Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are probably the worst-positioned franchise in the NFL, maybe in all of major pro sports. Think about it. Michael Vick's situation leaves an enormous talent vacuum. The coach they started the season with just ran out on them. The owner, Arthur Blank, has indicated he has lost confidence in the guy who was running the franchise, Rich McKay. Bill Parcells, the guy who was going to plot their football future, spurned them.
January 7, 2001
"A Day Late and a Dollar Short," by Terry McMillan. Viking. 432 pages. 25.95. Dear Ms. McMillan: Girlfriend, you must be running out of material. You done wore out the mama thang and the sister thang already. So now you up in everybody's family business: outside children, aunties hooked on prescription pills, stepfathers with dirty minds. But what's up with all this forgiveness stuff? Chile, you in love -- or therapy? I predict that "A Day Late and a Dollar Short" will be a best seller and a made-for-TV movie.
May 7, 1993
If it weren't so good, it would be glib fun to dismiss "Olivier Olivier" as a fractured fairy tale for recondite adult tastes; it's about a little boy on his way to grandmother's house with a food basket who is set upon by a wolf.Yet that symbolic overlay is never intrusive or self-conscious; it's part of the quiet, clammy art of the film which advances through horror one intimate detail after another. Directed by the legendary Agnieszka Holland ("Europa, Europa"), the film is an existential thriller as chilly and dislocating as anything by Chabrol or Sluizer or Hitchcock, other masters of the art."