Movie combines family man with espionage

I am still not really sold on the merits of Mark Wahlberg as an actor, but I do think he puts in some pretty solid work whenever a script calls for him to lean into his funny side.

The Other Guys was decent, as was Ted (and The Happening was absolutely hysterical, although that one wasn’t on purpose). And hey, the dude is buff and totally believable as an action star because of it (The Italian Job, The Fighter, etc.)

The new Apple film The Family Plan is a movie that plays to Marky Mark’s strengths, being billed as both a comedy and a family-oriented action romp, and just like its star it is pretty passable if not particularly compelling.

The Family Plan feels familiar almost immediately and never stops being predictable, leaving little room for any feeling of originality. The plot has been done before and all of the beats have been beaten, be they comedic or dramatic.

This makes the proceedings drag on with all the haste of a particularly lethargic lump of molasses, as everyone knows what’s going to happen, so why not just get there? The only twist I was truly surprised at does nothing to add to the story, seemingly existing just for the sake of it.

At two hours, The Family Plan feels entirely too long, although it does still manage to show some signs of life on the way.

The action in The Family Plan isn’t anything special but it does do the job pretty well, injecting energy into the runtime when things get boring.

There are some amusing fight scenes, including one that involves a baby Bjorn-clad Wahlberg in a knife fight and another that involves a car chase, a minivan, noise cancelling earphones and an Enya track. And hey, plenty of people get beaten up as things go along. That’s pretty cool.

The jokes aren’t nearly as funny as they should be for something claiming to be a comedy, mostly omitting clever writing and instead repeatedly drawing from the well that is reaction shots of a (sometimes obviously CGI) baby being amused at various violent situations. But the actors do their thing earnestly, keeping things from getting too painful.

When the film shoots for heartwarming it hits its target often enough, even if the characters skew a bit unlikable at times (or maybe I just hate teenagers and teenager problems).

The logic of The Family Plan is sometimes suspect.

The screenwriters are sometimes less concerned with how things actually work in favor of how they want those things to serve the story, such as one bafflingly illogical laser tag scene and the uncanny ability Michelle Monaghan’s character has to somehow change a baby’s diaper as she is holding said baby.

Will Mark Wahlberg ever be the leading man Hollywood wants him to be? Perhaps not, but I think we have at last found a niche that works for him—middling action films with a side of comedy. You can do worse.

The Family Plan is now available on Apple TV+.

Article written by TJ Reid

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