A Family Thing

 (137)7.01 h 49 min1996PG-13
A dying mother's last wish leads a bow-legged white Southerner on a trip to find his long-lost, black half-brother in Chicago. A fine comedy/drama, co-written by Billy Bob Thornton.
Richard Pearce
Robert DuvallJames Earl JonesMichael Beach
English [CC]
Audio languages

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Supporting actors
Irma P HallGrace ZabriskieRegina TaylorMary JacksonPaula MarshallJames Harrell
Robert DuvallTodd BlackRanda Haines
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

137 global ratings

  1. 78% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 7% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Barbara HartwellReviewed in the United States on September 26, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Hidden Gem
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Most people have never heard of this movie, I saw it first a few years ago and watched it again. We NEED this kind of movie in the climate we live in as it teaches respect, understanding, trust and what may seem so IS not so. Between Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones it takes time to get there but they build that trust and understanding based on what they, Jones, KNOWS is true and what, Duvall, learns IS true. They build a bond that is strong, loving and trusting. Why this movie hasn't been viewed more is a mystery to me as it teaches above all else - acceptance and love - everything else is just stuff that gets in the way.
6 people found this helpful
DeirdreReviewed in the United States on June 16, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Even better than we Remembered
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I bought this DVD as a Mother's Way gift for my Mom. She, my cousin, and I watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
It had been many years since we watched it (on VHS). There was so much my mother and I had forgotten. That made watching it even more enjoyable. We couldn't stop laughing, though there were some poignant moments.

The picture was clear and the color sharp. During a time of cries for racial / social justice this older movie is actually rather timely. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Stavis Bay USAReviewed in the United States on April 6, 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
Family is family, it just IS!!!!
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The powerful performances of both James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall make this such an incredible and special movie that I just have to re-visit often. Black is black, white is white, right? Well, this story says that what we think about ourselves, our families, might just need to stretch a little bit further and even past our comfort zone. Two little boys, separated at birth, separated by race, find themselves thrown back together, in the fall of their lives, by the dying wish of a loving mom. Life can appear one way, and then show us we are not done learning, stretching, becoming the people we are meant to be. Strangers in all ways, become the family they were destined to be, and the journey is so worth a visit. AuntT is a character that will make you laugh, will stick with you for a very long time. Her eyes are blind, but also her love is blind to the difference that seem so clear to others. Family IS family, and that's all there is to it. Watching brothers become brothers again is a mighty nice and funny experience, yes it is!
10 people found this helpful
MarkAntneyReviewed in the United States on April 6, 2011
4.0 out of 5 stars
Hidden Gem of a Movie on a Very Real Topic (In the South)
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Can't add much to the great reviews, only I'm from the South (MS) and my mother, aunts,..others informed me of such an issue when I became a grown man and ended up back home for a few years.

That said, there isn't a wasted performance, line, scene,... in the entire movie, just a steady paced Southern Tale of Reconciliation.

Others here give the bigger nod to the Aunt, mine is reserved for Mr. Steady (Duvall), if you want to see pure genius in ONE scene, find the one when he takes the letter and reads it to his (back sliddin) Daddy.

The emotion he emits in that scene is simply compelling. It's a movie for grownups, for I don't see a youngin being able to sit through a Movie with no (REAL) violence, bombs, tight skirts, short-shorts, fake boobs/foreheads/eyebrows,...Two other good scenes: Duvall and his older (black) nephew, telling him how he found out "Life Ain't about you,..." and the Blind Aunt telling them of Duvall's birth.

Great Movie, start to finish.

A solid 4 Stars, actually a few 10ths more, not quite enough for 5, because it's not "edge of your seat" but a VERY good movie.
12 people found this helpful
blue-59Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars
Overlooked masterpiece
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When I looked over the video box and saw the fine cast, I rented this movie expecting some enjoyable but fluffy entertainment. However, this sleeper turned out to be a true masterpiece, easily making my list of all-time best. Within the first few minutes, Robert Duvall gives us a study in fine acting when he confronts his father with the mother's letter about their long-buried family secret. And how many people would recognize the authentic Southern slang when James Earl Jones declares, "I ain't studyin' him!"

The only flaw I can find in this picture is the jarring music that inappropriately breaks the mood to introduce the final credits. But that's the only one, a millionth of a percent. I will snap up the DVD now that it is available.

Good story, great cast, engrossing from beginning to end. So why didn't this movie receive more attention? Was it because it isn't the kind that generates huge box office receipts? Was it moviedom politics? Or did the reconciliation between brothers who grew up on different sides of the color line make the p.c. types, the ones for whom injustice and victimhood are the only valid racial topics, uncomfortable?
39 people found this helpful
booksReviewed in the United States on March 31, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best movie ever!
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This movie is the best one I have ever seen. It is really true to life. It is a movie you can not take your eyes off of. We have watched it about 10 or more times. It does have some bad language and some prejudice in it but to be true to the trueness of the era you would have to have it that way. So have an open mind to how it used to be and get the real life out of it. My husband and I comment on it almost daily and use some of the saying daily. Then we say "Well it's "A family thing tonite again". We know the words to it and feel that we could act out the movie ourselves. The actors in it are the best ever in acting. Buy it for you will watch it very often. The comments in it stay with you forever. We are Christians.
6 people found this helpful
Jeff ThalheimerReviewed in the United States on July 25, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
A loving movie
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This movie is marvelous, truly marvelous. I enjoyed it very much. It's filled with insight into both personal and national disasters. All the actors were first-class. It is filled with tension, new insights and a good settlement into reality. It is gentle and very real. I enjoy it a good deal.
There was a line in the original that was taken out of the disk: "those people living up there. Where are their families?" It was something that northerners do not see about the south: it's a strong family area, where anyone in the family will automatically make enormous sacrifices for any other family member. Generally, this is not so in the north.
In addition, the movie is enchanting.
3 people found this helpful
Veronica A. JohnsonReviewed in the United States on April 1, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great soundtrack of an enjoyable movie!
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I simply love this soundtrack from the movie "A Family Thing"! The movie itself is very moving, and the CD features Aretha Franklin singing "Spirit in the Dark", as well as a host of great artists playing some really good down home jazz and blues that's great to just kick back and listen to.
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