Picks and Pans Review: Danielle Steel's Family Album
On the day of his beloved wife's funeral, a Hollywood producer (Michael Ontkean) pages through the photo album of his marriage. From a USO tour during the Korean War, when he first set eyes on his bride-to-be, to the honeymoon, to the child-assisted trimming of the Christmas tree, all of the greeting-card moments are represented in more than four decades' worth of memories. Oh, it isn't all sweetness and light for Ontkean and his wife (Jaclyn Smith) in this two-parter, which concludes the following night. Steel always manages to put her characters through the blast furnace of mischance.
A little background: Ontkean is a devil-may-care playboy who runs the family fortune into the ground in the first 20 minutes of the saga. Smith is an actress who through sheer self-determination becomes a major film director. Meanwhile their kids are busily constructing a wax museum of contempo social clichés: the eldest son is gay, another volunteers for Vietnam, one becomes a runaway and teen mother, etc. Mercy!
This hackneyed attempt to blend Hollywood glamor with family values is cosmetically appealing, but underneath that veneer crawl the worms of artifice, predictability and bad acting.