Two short-tempered adult sisters attempt to plan a baby shower for a relative they don’t even know. But when a hot new social media profiling app hits the market and tempts each woman to believe lies about the other, party-planning chaos ensues.
Cap and Julie Karmona are sisters living in beautiful Savannah, Georgia, with a strained relationship, each dealing with their own problems in isolation from the other. Cap, a beautiful and talented actress/journalist with a major case of wanderlust, is trying to advance her career and find her place in the world. Constantly being compared to her perfectionist, ducks-in-a-row, professional event planner sister, Julie, Cap is the butt of the family jokes — especially Julie’s.
The sisters live relatively separate lives as Julie tends to her two children and her successful business, while Cap spends her evenings alone eating TV dinners and dreaming about traveling the world. The Karmona sisters are in for a rude awakening, however, when their mother, Barb, drops a bombshell that will alter the landscape of their little family forever. Under all this stress, the cracks in this family are on full display — only amplified by a new profiling app, and its suave creator, Charles, which promises to “expose” toxic relationships. When everyone is hiding something, nobody communicates, and animosity reigns supreme, can the Karmona family find a real happy ending, or will they always be a Fake Fam?
There is much to love, even treasure, about Fake Fam: the manuscript is well-written and genuine, with beautiful direction and settings. Keen attention to detail paints the pictures for readers, providing rich images of the film. The story is mostly original, so although it uses a few cliches/tropes (going in to labor fixes everything!), Fake Fam manages to cash in on them by interweaving some top-notch story telling. The overall feeling of the story is a delicious cross between G-rated In Her Shoes and Steel Magnolias. The first 60 or so pages are nothing if not delightfully decadent drama; the perfect set up for a climactic conflict, and a grand, emotional resolution. Where Fake Fam falls from grace is in its delivery of that resolution, and the holes in the bucket which carries it.
The positives for Fake Fam is in the stellar plot and messaging. Viewers are presented with a disjointed family who refuses to communicate about anything, leading to rampant division, hurt feelings, and bad decisions. You’ve got women who are strong and beautiful that are isolating from each other, holding in pain, swimming in loneliness, but are too prideful to do what must be done: be there for each other. This film really does a fantastic job of illustrating what happens when we, as a people, disconnect, withdraw, and shut down on each other. No communication = misunderstandings and division. Communication without understanding and forgiveness still equals division. The filmmakers found a great vessel in the Cap/Julie relationship to teach this important lesson.Fake Fam also offers quick-witted, biting humor; subtle and endearing romance; infuriating frustration, and a true-to-life feel.
That being said, the bones to pick with Fake Fam are few, but they’re important. Firstly, the premise of the film relies on family division caused by an app — but the film never makes it blatantly clear early on that the app is causing the drama between the sisters (it plays out more like a catalyst than a main cause). Secondly, there is very little resolution between Cap and Julie — the ending is nice, but their grievances are never fully dealt with, leaving the reader to wonder what issues may rear their ugly heads in the future. In the same vein, a major main character (Shauna) is never fully fleshed out. The brilliant writing (kudos to Kristen Butler) fizzles out and becomes contrived by the last 15 pages or so. Lastly, the film’s main purpose, to show unity and reject worldly wisdom, has no real faith elements to back it up. If the film is going for subtlety, it passed that station and went right on through to vague.
Fake Fam offers a sizzling beginning, a promising middle, a disappointing resolution, and a very happy ending — making it a potentially fun girl’s night film for those who enjoy the stories of sassy Southern women.
We award Fake Fam the Dove-approved for All Ages seal.
The Dove Take:
Fake Fam delivers on feisty family drama, but disappoints with vague faith and a lackluster resolution.