Angel in the House


A.K.A. Foster

Main Cast: Toni Collette, Ioan Gruffudd

Director: Jonathan Newman

Do you ever finish a movie and wonder what the hell you were thinking when you brought it into your house?  It happens to me more often than I’d like to admit, but Angel in the House was a particularly unwelcome visitor, one I was glad to pack up and send back where it came from as soon as possible.

I know how Angel in the House ended up in my house – it stars Toni Collette, who I really like.  But I really need to be more discerning, and more careful about reading plot summaries.  The movie stars Collette as Zooey, a young woman who is unable, with her husband Alec (Ioan Gruffudd), to conceive a child.  There is no medical reason for their infertility, yet they continue to fail.  They decide to look into fostering a child, both as a way to parent and as a way to help them both get over some unnamed trauma in their past that may be the psychological block that is keeping them from having a biological child.

After they visit what amounts to an orphanage, a young man arrives on their doorstep, saying he’s been sent by the home.  Eli (Maurice Cole) has some documentation and the home is in chaos when Zooey and Alec try to check on the validity of a child simply showing up at their home after one visit.  They end up keeping Alec with them.  He’s very precocious, seems to know exactly the right things (very adult things) to do and say to help Alec with his failing business and Zooey with her trauma.  He’s just too good to be true.

Enter a cryptic homeless man in the park who provides yet more subtle “counseling” to the struggling couple and you have sap running out the sides of the TV and all over your white living room carpet.

Angel in the House sucks.  It’s trite, diminishes the trauma suffered by the couple, inserts “angels” where none are necessary, makes the adults seem like clueless children and says nothing at all about the power of healing.  It’s just manipulative, predictable pabulum spoon-fed the audience by an initially cute kid who becomes grating and obnoxious after about 20 minutes.

Both Collette and Gruffudd are wasted.  Each has the occasional funny or touching moment, but each is ruined by some crap spewed by the pint sized guru of family harmony.  The message is both uneven and heavy handed.  Are they trying to say everyone needs an angel sometimes?  That angels come in all forms?  That an angel will solve your problems?  Whatever it is, it’s heavy on the angel crap and light on anything even remotely resembling honest emotion.  Also, it isn’t funny.  At all.

Overall, Angel in the House is a disaster.  Trite, sappy, heavy handed and stupid.  Don’t waste your time. One star out of five, and it only gets one because I feel sorry for Collette and Gruffudd.

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