The definition of family has changed a great deal from the old-fashioned notion of a mother, father, 2.5 children, and a dog.
These days, it’s accepted and embraced that families come in all shapes and sizes; the only real universal quality being a strong love for one another.
The film Gifted, opening in select theaters April 7, is one such example. In it, Chris Evans plays Frank Adler, a single man raising his young niece Mary (the adorable Mckenna Grace) who happens to be a child prodigy. Octavia Spencer plays Roberta, Frank and Mary’s landlady/friend, and Jenny Slate stars as Mary’s teacher, Bonnie. Those three characters, Frank, Roberta and Bonnie, surround Mary with the love, nurturing, and kindness that make a family. Conflict arises when Frank’s desire to give Mary as normal a school life as possible is not supported by his mother (Lindsay Duncan) who desires anything but “normal” for her mathematical genius granddaughter. The message that chosen family can be just as important as birth family shines throughout the movie.
Not only do the actors have great chemistry onscreen portraying this modern family, they also became a sort of “movie family” while filming. At the press junket last month, the stars’ fondness for each other was abundantly clear. McKenna simply adores Chris (though she did try to get a handle on his potty mouth with a swear jar on set — $5 a pop for bad words and $10 for “the big one”), and he was just smitten with her acting chops, poise, and maturity. “This kid’s going to rule the world,” he proclaimed, as proudly as if he were actually her uncle.
Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer were equally as in sync, reminiscing about cast dinners in Atlanta and inside jokes. They radiated true friendship and mutual respect. Though her role was relatively small, Octavia admitted to coming to set every single day, even when she wasn’t in a scene, just to watch her fellow actors at work.
If you’re a believer in families of all kinds, check out Gifted. And don’t forget a tissue!
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