Joe Wilkinson Is Wasted In This Lukewarm New Comedy


  • The film creatively uses space and is well-shot, but lacks a cohesive and engaging narrative.
  • Blatant sexism and lack of character development make it difficult to invest in the story.
  • Pacing issues and too many plotlines prevent the audience from fully enjoying A Family Affair’s potential humor.

A Family Affair starts strong, indicating that it’s going to be a slapstick comedy subverting the perception of quaint British life. However, what little raunch and quirks there are get lost along the way. In the film, a couple, Edward and Helen, played by Joe Wilkinson and Laura Aikman, face impending doom as their parents descend to spend the weekend amid their hotel going up for auction, since Edward can’t pay the bills. Like most comedies, the conflict and story only matter in their ability to create opportunities for laughs. However, there wasn’t enough comedy to justify the thin narrative.

A Family Affair is a 2024 comedy film directed and written by Warren Fischer. The film revolves around a hotel manager named Edward, who is being threatened by a bank to auction off the property. Edward then has to juggle this with his in-laws visiting for their wedding anniversary.


  • A Family Affair makes creative use of space & is well-shot

  • Edward is never a character we can fully invest in
  • There’s a lot of blatant sexism
  • The film’s story is all over the place

Written and directed by Warren Fischer, the movie is clearly that of a first-time filmmaker, and some of the pitfalls can be chalked up to experience. The shots are precise, and the setting is a beautiful background that successfully juxtaposes the comedic tone of the narrative. Shot all in one location and taking place in one day, A Family Affair makes do with a minimal budget and uses the space creatively. With a runtime of only one hour and 12 minutes, the movie packs in a lot of action without saying much about its characters.

The Idyllic English Countryside Is Made Stressful In A Family Affair

But it’s not exciting enough to capture our attention

The characters with the most to do, and who have the biggest comedic beats are Helen and Edward’s fathers, Walter and Albert, who are coming to terms with their age. Behaving more like teenagers than grown men, they shamelessly chase around a much younger woman and make light of their decades-long marriages. Though this is meant to be seen through the light of how difficult it is to age, and the desperate attempt to remain relevant, their comments aren’t funny, they’re just sexist and sad. Overall, the female characters in the film are treated with disdain across the board.

Though Helen takes Edward down a few pegs by the end, almost every woman in the story is reduced to a “nagging wife” or “gold digger.” Even if these characterizations were supposed to be caricatures played for self-aware laughs, this is lost on the audience, as it’s decidedly not funny. The supposed comedic peak of the film, which involves mass drugging and other forms of criminal activity, has moments that could almost make us laugh had there been any build-up to create a satisfying payoff. Character motivations and desires turn on a dime, making them impossible to account for.

This lack of emotion comes across as a lack of effort rather than deadpan humor.

A large part of the issue is that so few actors get to be funny in their roles. Casting Wilkinson as the straight-man is a gross misuse of his talents. It forces him to be the film’s emotional heart, a role he isn’t prepared for. The audience is supposed to feel his pain as he tries to please everyone and hang onto his dream of running a guest house as it crumbles around him. However, even with the impending doom of the bank selling his property and the disapproval of his in-laws, Edward can barely muster a disgruntled expression.

This lack of emotion comes across as a lack of effort rather than deadpan humor. It’s difficult to like Edward, as his constant lying to his wife and family makes it difficult to view him as the story’s hero. A nugget of the story that could have been emotionally compelling, the dynamic between Edward and his father, is barely acknowledged until the last twenty minutes. They have a shared loss they’re both grappling with, but this takes a backseat to irrelevant tangents that again fail to punch up the continual moments of awkwardness and dead air.

For A Movie With So Many Plotlines, Not Much Happens

If A Family Affair had pared down the story, one of them might have gotten enough time

Due to the editing, pacing, and inconsistencies in the script, the threads of A Family Affair that begin to fit together about halfway through the movie’s quick runtime never achieve cohesion. Individually, each aspect of the story is straightforward, but they’re never given individual moments to shine. The edges of every plot point begin to blur before we have time to take them in and understand what’s happening. This is likely an attempt to create an overwhelming atmosphere to match Edward’s lack of control, but it doesn’t feel purposeful.

Family dramedies are a well-known and frequently tread genre, and there is much humor and insightful realizations about life to be found in dysfunction. However, for dysfunction and tension to mean anything, the audience must invest in the characters and A Family Affair never gives us a reason to care. The sparsely populated funny moments don’t make up for the lack of craftsmanship in the story’s journey. Much like Edward’s dreams for the hotel, the movie doesn’t turn out exactly how the audience imagines.

A Family Affair is now available on digital.

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