Family Squares Review – Zoom Dramady Delivers Dysfunctional Humor

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Family Squares, from Screen Media, presents a mid-pandemic story of family, each dealing with the uncertainty of quarantines, the loss of freedom and now the inability to be comforted or forgiven as the matriarch dies via Zoom.


The premise of the story is that it is mid-pandemic and Grandma Mabel, the matriarch of a large family, played by June Squibb, is dying and while she is one of the lucky ones not to be dying of Covid, she is aware that she will be dying alone. She contacts her great-granddaughter, played by Elsie Fisher, to teach her the basics of Zoom and a day later the entire clan is accessing the link to join as she says her farewell.


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Mabel passes peacefully, albeit alone via Zoom, with her family electronically by her side, whispering, again via Zoom so in order to ensure she hears them it is somewhat louder with many broken, "can she hear us, is she, is that it?" from the less tech savvy of the clan.

Suddenly the family is without a leader and the usual jockeying for position begins. In this case, Mabel, may have died but she decided to return in three separate videos to ensure that the long-held animosities, estrangements and secrets are finally laid bare and with that hopefully, the healing can begin.

This moves the film into the second act. As with most families, a death of this magnitude brings out the worst. Grandma Mabel made decisions before her death, unbeknownst to her family that the secrets were ending with her and as she goes down the line addressing each member of the family and explaining enough is enough. It is time to make peace with the past.

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As the family holds a virtual wake, the group is gathered watching the videos when Mabel drops the bomb. The parents of one of the grandchildren is not the parent. Which causes the entire family to implode while the boys are secretly believing it is the less than ambitious sibling; the girls are believing it is the hyper high-strung sibling. We also meet Mabel's wife, played by Ann Dowd, who was denied access to Mabel and knew the hidden secrets.

As the family populates on the screen, the two siblings and Mabel's children, played by Margo Martindale and Henry Winkler, now estranged over a long-buried secret are each coping in their own way.

Will revealing the secret bring hurt, harm? Will it destroy the future or heal the past? As, the story progresses, the audience if left to wonder and if the unearthed deeply hidden secret will shake the family to its very core.

Mabel, with the wisdom only age can bring, to ensure her death will not splinter the family she sends her children and grandchildren on another quest. And as they begin to find their way back to each other, they soon realize that while you can't choose your family, you can choose to be friends with them.

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Family Squares delivers a dramatic comedy filmed entirely on Zoom. It is a testament to storytelling, and the will to create even when it seems impossible. Populating on screen in Brady Bunch styling, the film highlights communication in the modern age. The loss of cell signal, the loss of sound, the common problems every Zoom user has confronted humanizes the film and makes it relatable.

The storyline, all to common in the pandemic age, resonates with lingering truth. Fortunately, as it is a dramatic comedy, the family in their hyper-dysfunction are very funny. An over-the-top situational comedy Family Squares is a roller coaster ride of pandemic emotion.

Family Squares is available On Demand. See it.

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Country: USA.

Language: English.

Runtime: 99minutes.

Director: Stephanie Laing.

Writer: Stephanie Laing.

Cast: Ann Dowd, Elsie Fisher, Judy Greer, Billy Magnussen, Margo Martindale, Sam Richardson, Timothy Simons, June Squibb, Casey Wilson, Scott MacArthur, Zoë Chao, Jessica Miesel, Maclaren Laing, Henry Winkler.

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