It Runs in the Family (2003 film)

It Runs in the Family is a 2003 comedy-drama movie directed by Fred Schepisi and starring three generations of the Douglas family: Kirk Douglas, his son Michael Douglas, and Michael's son Cameron Douglas, who play three generations of a family. Diana Douglas (née Dill), real-life mother to Michael Douglas and ex-wife of Kirk, plays Kirk's character's wife.

It Runs in the Family
Directed byFred Schepisi
Produced by
Written byJesse Wigutow
Music by
CinematographyIan Baker
Edited byKate Williams
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co.[1]
Release date
  • April 25, 2003 (2003-04-25)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Box office$8.2 million


The story involves the highly successful New York City Gromberg family. Each member has their own set of problems. The father-son relationship difficulties is highlighted. Mitchell Gromberg is dealing with health problems resulting from a stroke. His son Alex works as a lawyer in the firm that his father founded, but he questions the usefulness of his work and his place in the family. Alex's son, Asher, does not take college seriously and seems lost. The youngest son is 11 year old Eli, who is extremely intelligent, while being socially awkward and is entering a difficult pre-adolescent time.

Alex indulges in a thoughtless and careless brief romantic fling with Suzie at the soup kitchen where they volunteer. Psychologist wife Rebecca discovers panties and it threatens their marriage. When Evelyn Gromberg, Mitchell's wife and Alex's mother dies, the family comes together to heal. At Evelyn's funeral in suburban New York, Rebecca tells Alex that she knows about his romantic fling. Alex, Mitchell and Asher go fishing to talk about old wounds but nothing gets resolved.

At college Asher is discovered with illegal drugs. Although devastated, Rebecca and Alex are supportive parents and vow to get help for Asher. He wants his girlfriend Peg protected. Alex's older brother Stephen dies. He and Mitchell give him a fire send-off and farewell. Back at home Alex is forced to sleep on the living room couch but Rebecca agrees to reconciliation terms.



In his role as producer, Michael Douglas suggested his mother (Diana Dill), Rory Culkin, and Bernadette Peters for their roles. Fred Schepisi noted that they were originally considering Sigourney Weaver for the part of Michael's wife. "Bernadette [Peters] was a really nice balance, playing straighter than you’d usually see her play..."[2]

Total gross was $7,491,839. In comparison, Michael Douglas' next movie, The In-Laws, grossed $20,453,431.[3]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 28% and an average rating of 4.5/10. The site's consensus states, "Despite its gimmick casting, the movie ultimately goes nowhere."[4] Critic Steven Holden wrote in The New York Times that the film is a "surprisingly complex and subtle portrait", and "Besides its laudable reluctance to tie up loose ends, the most courageous thing about It Runs in the Family is its refusal to try to make you love its aggressive, strong-willed characters."[5] Roger Ebert wrote: "But the movie is simply not clear about where it wants to go and what it wants to do. It is heavy on episode and light on insight, and although it takes courage to bring up touchy topics it would have taken more to treat them frankly."[6]

See also


  1. "It Runs in the Family (2003)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  2. "Interviews. Schepisi, Fred: 'It Runs in the Family'", August 23, 2003
  3. Michael Douglas listing, accessed February 9, 2009
  4. "It Runs in the Family (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  5. Holden, Stephen."Movie Review: Fathers, Sons, Grandsons, In the Script and Real Life".The New York Times, April 25, 2003
  6. Ebert, Roger "'It Runs In The Family'".Chicago Sun-Times, April 25, 2003
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