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'A Family Affair' Is Just Another Example Of The Sad State Of Rom-Coms

“No great tryst ever started with someone being rational,” says the always-wise Kathy Bates as grandmother Leila Ford in Netflix’s newest rom-com, “A Family Affair.” One could argue that the same truism also applies to romantic comedies, especially the great ones.

Like all movies, rom-coms ask us to suspend our disbelief, to settle into our couch and let ourselves believe in anonymously heartfelt email exchanges and wish for bouquets of sharpened pencils. We watch them with the belief that things will work out, that a seemingly dysfunctional friendship can make two people surprisingly good wedding dates and even better lovers. From Nora Ephron classics such as “You’ve Got Mail” to more recent indie films such as “Plus One” and “Rye Lane,” great romantic comedies, like a life-changing love affair, offer both escape and self-discovery. And, most importantly, they remind us to hope.

Admittedly, this is a high bar for a genre that is so often dismissed and undervalued, but when I learned that Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Joey King would be starring in a romantic comedy together, I thought they just might be able to reach it. However, instead of lifting up a genre, “A Family Affair” reinforces the sad state of rom-coms right now.

In it, Efron plays difficult movie star Chris Cole who falls for Brooke (Kidman), the mother of his 24-year-old assistant, Zara (King). Like the cast, the premise is promising. On its surface, the film could even be touted as a mash-up of Prime Video’s recent age-gap romance “The Idea of You” with a classic “Notting Hill”-esque twist (a movie star falling in love with a non-celebrity).

However, in execution, “A Family Affair” misses the mark and often doesn’t feel like a rom-com at all. Is the

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