September 9, 2019  (Web Review)

Being Frank

Universal, 111 min., R, DVD: $22.98, Sept. 10

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Bigamy is the not-so-funny basis for Miranda Bailey’s would-be comedy-drama, set in 1992, when presumably the possibility of getting away with having two families would have been easier than in our Google-search culture. Frank Hansen (Jim Gaffigan) runs a catsup factory. His wife Laura (Anna Gunn) and daughter Lib (Emerson Tate Alexander) seem happy enough, despite Frank’s frequent business trips, but he is very hard on his rebellious teen son Philip (Logan Miller), whose plan to go to NYU as a music major is nixed by Frank. When Philip accidentally discovers that his dad has another family—wife Bonnie (Samantha Mathis), athletic son Eddie (Gage Polchlopek), and pretty teen daughter Allison (Danielle Campbell)—in a nearby town, he insinuates his way into the brood, intending to blackmail Frank into covering his college tuition. What follows is a broad farce with semi-dramatic digressions as father and son not only bond but work together to keep dad’s secret when the first family unexpectedly shows up, a task complicated by Philip’s attraction to his half-sister. Comedian Gaffigan is an affable presence, and Alex Karpovsky steals a few scenes as a slacker enlisted to impersonate Philip’s supposed father, but Being Frank never really takes off, repeatedly becoming bogged down in slow expository sequences before revving up in frantically unfunny slapstick scenes. Not a necessary purchase. (F. Swietek)