Home Movies (1980)

Home Movies (1980)

“I’d like to be the hero of this family, just once.”

A young man (Keith Gordon) in a deeply troubled family is encouraged by a charismatic instructor (Kirk Douglas) to film the story of his life.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Black Comedy
  • Brian De Palma Films
  • Family Problems
  • Kirk Douglas Films
  • Movie Directors
  • Nancy Allen Films

Made in collaboration with some of his students at Sarah Lawrence College, this Brian De Palma-directed film (a throwback to earlier quirky comedies in his oeuvre) remains an unfortunate misfire on every count. Although we’re meant to sympathize with the hapless protagonist — whose doctor-father (Vincent Gardenia) is cheating on his wife (Mary Davenport), and whose narcissistic brother (Gerrit Graham) controls every move made by his adoring fiance (Nancy Allen) — Gordon’s character never emerges as anyone worthy of rooting for. De Palma and his team are clearly aspiring towards some form of absurdist comedy, but there are no meaty existential Truths to be mined from this material; viewers are simply left bored and annoyed. Meanwhile, Pino Donaggio’s invasive score helps not at all, and Douglas’s presence is simply embarrassing.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Creative opening titles

Must See?
No; definitely feel free to skip this one. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Home Movies (1980)

  1. First viewing. Ugh.

    A forgotten flick – for good reason. Was it ever remembered – for a minute?

    Six people wrote this script – none of them De Palma (though he is credited with the ‘story’), and none I ever heard of. The only kind-of-fun bit comes from Allen, struggling with her, um, alter ego hand-puppet bunny. ~which is still pretty dumb but at least Allen seems to be having fun.


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