Let the research begin. Wendy Shuman (Kelly McGuire) has just finished her freshman year at N.Y.U. She’s majoring in creative writing and wants to spend her summer writing the ultimate book on dysfunctional families. What better place to start her studies than with her own family in Los Angeles? She flies in to find her house and family is still the identical one she left behind a year earlier, neurotic and in denial. Her mother Marilyn Swel(Grace McClure) is a career mother who isn’t too busy with her work to know that her new husband, Marty Swel (Harry Cohn) just might be having an affair with one of his clients. Wendy’s younger sister Pam (Jessica Renæ Miller) is entering her formidable teen years and is isolating herself from the family and possibly the world. Wendy’s other sister, or, excuse me, half-sister is nine-year-old Tracey (Zoe Gochin), who loves to reek havoc on Chrissie (Carina Aladjadjian) the house keepers daughter.
Now that the cast is out of the way, let’s try to get back to the story. It doesn’t take long before Wendy becomes overwhelmed by her family’s chemistry. Instead of being the outside observer she aimed to be, within the first day she’s quickly dragged back into the family unit, dysfunction and all. To make matters worse, her boyfriend from New York has flown in to visit her and disappears with the father’s Cadillac.
If those aren’t enough people to keep track of, then throw in a few more. Moe Swel (David MacArthur), the grandfather, seems to have a few loose screws and spends most of his time wandering around the house, and Ernie (Kirk B.R. Woller) is a recently released ex-con. Let’s not forget about Estelle Rodriguez (Zilah Mendoze Hill), the Mexican housekeeper who seems to be content with working and living with the extended family I’ve just mentioned.
The problem with too many characters in a film, and the fundamental problem with “Interruptions,” is that the movie fills the screen with as many uneven representations as the imagination will allow. Most of the time the characters serve no other purpose than to remind us that the family isn’t all there, a point that was well observed right from the beginning. Gretchen Somerfeld begins by hyping the dysfunction of the family, and then spends the rest of the film trying to throw enough weird people at us in hopes that we wont forget how different this family is. None of the supporting characters are ever truly explored, leaving us with the protagonist, Wendy, who never really opens up either. When dealing with family comedies, the funniest ones tend to be the ones that let the chips fall where the may. The characters aren’t there to serve one purpose, or get a quick laugh out of us. This film might have worked better by subtracting a few characters and adding a few dimensions to the rest.