Picks and Pans Review: Family Business

updated 01/08/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/08/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Matthew Broderick, Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman

So what's the most preposterous thing about this movie? Maybe it's that Connery is cast as Hoffman's father; they don't look remotely alike, and they're as close in size as a moose and a rabbit. (Connery's fist is just about the size of Hoffman's head.)

Or maybe that Broderick, as Hoffman's son, plays an MIT grad student who is so bored with being a brilliant scholar he looks for another line of work and naturally chooses burglary.

Or perhaps it's that director Sidney (Network) Lumet, in a wretchedly perverted happy ending, seems to be suggesting sincerely that the loose-living Connery, as a career criminal (and a second-rate crook at that), has led a more admirable life than the staid Hoffman, who runs a wholesale meat company. (This is true even though the supposedly free-thinking Connery spouts such clich├ęs as "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime" and "you play the cards you're dealt.")

Or could it be the ludicrous crime the three men end up involved in?

Hoffman never really makes it convincing that his character would so casually expose his beloved son to arrest (and gunplay). But he has a convincing moment or two of paternal concern, acting away furiously and working as hard as someone bailing out a boat already up to its gunwales and filling fast. Broderick and Connery, with parts that offer fewer possibilities, just go down with the ship in honorable fashion. (R)

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