Stuart Saves His Family [1995]

Though it seems like a one-joke premise, this spinoff of Al Franken's Saturday Night Live character, self-help nerd Stuart Smalley, actually has some substance. And, in fact, it offers a message that wouldn't be out of place at an Al-Anon meeting (although with the laughs). Stuart, fired from his cable TV self-help show, goes home to resolve a family crisis. Dad (Harris Yulin) is an abusive drunk, Mom (Shirley Knight) is an enabler, Sis is an over-eater, and Brother has a problem with his temper. The film turns serious, but Franken actually makes the drama interesting, using humor to leaven it. And he brings a certain sympathy and resolve to the lisping, cross-eyed Stuart. To be sure, it's not your typical SNL movie. --Marshall Fine

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