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Streaming Now: ‘A Family Affair’ Falls Short with Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman

After weeks of teasing steamy scenes between thirst-trapped Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman, Netflix is now streaming A Family Affair — a rom-com that trots out the tiring age-gap trope once again. The latest rom-com is a testament to Hollywood’s delusion that simply pairing provocative stars can salvage even the most tepid stories.

The plot revolves around Chris Cole (Zac Efron), an insufferably arrogant movie star whose knowledge of everyday life is as limited as his acting range. His character, a mid-thirties diva with intimacy issues, stumbles into the life of Brooke Harwood (Nicole Kidman), a widowed fashion writer living in a waterside mansion, and happens to be mother to Cole’s frustrated PA, Zara (Joey King). The two are thrust together in a series of contrived and painfully unfunny situations that are meant to pass for a forbidden romance.

From the outset, the film’s premise reeks of desperation. Chris, in a fit of pique, barges into the home of his overworked assistant, only to encounter Brooke. The ensuing romance between Chris and Brooke feels inorganic, wooden, and devoid of any genuine chemistry, relying instead on the novelty of the star-pairing to carry the story.

The rather obvious parallels with Prime Video’s Anne Hathaway starrer, The Idea Of You, from earlier this year, seem inevitable. Where The Idea of You delivered a nuanced new look at a middle-aged woman’s romance with a younger star — infused with genuine chemistry and mature reflections on love and life — A Family Affair flounders in a sea of clichés and forced humour.

Hathaway’s performance drew you into a believable, tender connection that resonated, while the Efron-Kidman pairing feels like an awkward blind date gone wrong, marred by writing that substitutes wit with slapstick. Their sexual tension is neither titillating nor convincing, and the supposed horror and disgust it provokes in Zara are played for non-existent laughs.

Having delivered a riveting performance in last year’s The Iron Claw, it feels painful to watch Efron revert to his characteristic comedic overacting. His character here is so out of touch with reality that he hasn’t visited a grocery store in decades. Efron’s performance meanders from smug self-satisfaction to bewildered incompetence, never finding a middle ground that might make his character remotely relatable.

Kidman, on the other hand, is woefully miscast as Brooke. Her sudden inexplicable attraction to this man-child is about as believable as a tabloid headline. The script does her no favours, offering her little more than recycled rom-com tropes to work with.

Director Richard LaGravenese and screenwriter Carrie Solomon seem to have lost their way early on.

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. The film’s pacing is erratic, with unresolved sexual tension evaporating long before it should, leaving the plot lurching from one predictable scenario to the next.

There isn’t much to say about King, whose entitled selfish outbursts are just plain annoying. Supporting characters, played by the likes of Liza Koshy and Sherry Cola are reduced to mere accessories. Even the sole voice of reason in the film, Kathy Bates, exists only to highlight the leads’ inadequacies.

In the end, the only laugh A Family Affair manages to muster is a desperate “Your Mom” joke at its own expense. The real punchline? The film’s existence feels like it hinges solely on this last-ditch attempt at humour — or perhaps the biggest joke is that it was made at all.

The movie tries to make use of glamorous locales and wardrobe to mask its storytelling deficiencies but ends up feeling more like an extended fashion commercial rather than a heartfelt romantic comedy. The opulent settings serve as a backdrop for hollow character interactions and insipid dialogues that fail to make a lasting impression.

The weak script and uninspired direction also squander the talents of the supporting cast. Names such as Liza Koshy and Sherry Cola, who have proved their comedic chops in other projects, are left floundering with one-dimensional roles that contribute little to the story. Even the seasoned Kathy Bates, who plays Cole’s no-nonsense agent and the film’s voice of sanity, is given scant material that limits her ability to elevate the narrative.

With a runtime that feels overly stretched, the film’s pacing issues become more pronounced. The meandering plot fails to maintain a coherent focus, resulting in disjointed scenes that drag out simple relationship dilemmas into tedious and cringe-worthy encounters. The unresolved climax further leaves audiences questioning the intended message or purpose of the film.

Ultimately, A Family Affair is emblematic of a tired genre reaching for relevance in all the wrong places. It highlights only the shortcomings in casting choices, script development, and direction. The purportedly steamy age-gap romance fizzles out, leaving a bland taste and a missed opportunity for what could have been a nuanced narrative on love and generational divides.

A Family Affair is currently streaming on Netflix.