Stuart Saves His Family is the forgotten movie in both the Harold Ramis directing cannon, and the world of SNL movie adaptations. Taking the Stuart Smalley sketch from the venerable television variety show and adapting it to for the big screen makes for a surprisingly nimble, and enjoyable feature-length comedy. Al Franken (future senator) wrote and stars as the titular Stuart. He of the Smalley family, each of whom have some sort of addiction. Stuart Saves His Family is an SNL movie for people who typically are adverse to the sub-genre.
Stuart Smalley (Al Franken) lives his life by a reaffirming mantra that helps him stay away from his addictions. He’s a recovering addict of almost everything and hosts a talk show that helps those in need of emotional support. Stuart enters a “shame spiral” when his show is canceled from public-access television. Then his favorite aunt dies and his passive mom (Shirley Knight), alcoholic dad (Harris Yulin), couch-potato brother (Vincent D’Onofrio), and overeating sister persuade Stuart to return home for the funeral. This environment of dysfunction threatens Stuarts sanity and his family’s future as they battle over a meager inheritance.
The film is a delight in that it comically displays the often dysfunctional family unit. Particularly when drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and obsessive compulsions have taken over the lives of nearly everyone in Stuart’s clan. Stuart arrived on-screen when SNL comedians were headlining some of the day’s most high-profile and profitable films of the early nineties. This small (no pun intended, but appreciated) picture was overlooked at the box-office and has never found a following on home entertainment. That’s a shame, because it ranks high on the list of SNL skits to movie translations.
Director: Harold Ramis
Stars: Al Franken, Laura San Giacomo, Vincent D’Onofrio
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