Customer Reviews


24 Reviews
5 star:
 (20)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Big Hearted Eight Part Mockumentary Series About A Search For One's True Identity
The HBO series "Family Tree" is the latest endeavor by comic genius Christopher Guest (co-created with Jim Piddock, another terrific comedic actor). Guest has been in the business for decades as a writer, director and actor (shout out to Spinal Tap). For me, his artistic peak as a filmmaker came with his series of faux documentary features that began with 1996's...
Published 19 months ago by K. Harris

versus
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced
Great show. But why does the US charge over $20 for this region 1 product when the region 2 DVD for this show is available through AmazonUK for £6.09 (that's about $10).
Published 8 months ago by Captain Pea


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Big Hearted Eight Part Mockumentary Series About A Search For One's True Identity, July 28, 2013
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
The HBO series "Family Tree" is the latest endeavor by comic genius Christopher Guest (co-created with Jim Piddock, another terrific comedic actor). Guest has been in the business for decades as a writer, director and actor (shout out to Spinal Tap). For me, his artistic peak as a filmmaker came with his series of faux documentary features that began with 1996's "Waiting for Guffman" and carried on with 2000's "Best in Show," 2003's "A Mighty Wind," and 2006's "For Your Consideration." Guest's specialty in these films is that he really understands his subjects and has a genuine affection for them. Although absurd, they have an underlying tenderness and sweetness. He and his cast of largely improvisational performers (there is a somewhat regular stable) skewer topics such as amateur theater, dog shows, folk music, or the quest for Academy Award glory. Deadpan and droll, these features are both wickedly funny (especially Guffman and Show) and surprisingly truthful. Their humor stems from the fact that they treat their characters with respect and embrace the oddity inherent in the environments they inhabit. I mention this tone specifically, because if you have no idea what I'm talking about than "Family Tree" may confound your expectations somewhat.

Although moments in this eight part series are laugh out loud funny, the show's sense of humor can be understated as well. Chris O'Dowd plays a typical Londoner entering into an existential mid-life crisis. After losing his job and his girl, he becomes somewhat directionless. One day, he collects a strange box of remembrances left to him by a deceased Aunt he hardly knew. Upon poking through this rather meager collection, he finds an old photograph of (what he presumes) is his grandfather and this opens up an unexpected mission. He want to understand his family, his heritage, and maybe his own sense of identity in the process. As he embarks on a quest that will take him around England and eventually to California, he will meet an assortment of eccentrics ranging from odd to absolutely loony. The show is good natured, with charm to spare, and O'Dowd has a wide-eyed enthusiasm that is infectious. I was totally committed to his journey, no matter where it led.

Like the films I mentioned, this plays with a mockumentary feel where the actors are just allowed to play off one another extemporaneously. O'Dowd is assisted and often accompanied by his sister (Nina Conti) and exuberant best friend (Tom Bennett). The cast features Guest stalwarts like Michael McKean (O'Dowd's father), Ed Begley Jr., and Fred Willard with both Guest and Piddock also appearing. McKean is a standout and the source of some great running jokes (British TV, odd inventions). Bennett takes a rather conventional character of the bawdy best friend and serves up some of the biggest laughs. And O'Dowd is a terrific host to the proceedings. His reactions to what unfolds can be fantastic, I just loved watching his face. I have to (it is imperative) make special mention of Nina Conti, the show's absolute MVP in my estimation. Conti performs the entire show with a ventriloquist's monkey on her hand. Monkey (that's his name) has a scathing wit that often boils things down to their true essence. Reading this, you might think this borders on farce, but Conti is absolutely mesmerizing (she'd be on my short list for Supporting Actress at the Emmys). In the end, "Family Tree" might be too British, too quiet, or too odd for a mass market audience. But if you love Guest and/or British humor, "Family Tree" is a comedy with both laughs and heart. KGHarris, 7/13.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Climbing the family tree, April 3, 2014
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
Tracing your family tree seems to be addictive. As soon as my mother got a taste, she spent every spare moment she had looking up obscure medieval ancestors.

One can only wonder if Christopher Guest had a similar experience that inspired "Family Tree," which proves that Guest can make almost anything funny. Half quirky dramedy and half mockumentary, this smart little show follows a young man who gets his life together as he learns the stories of his ancestors... who, it turns out, are almost as weird as the kith and kin he has now.

Tom Chadwick (Chris O'Dowd) is depressed after the double-punch of being dumped by his job and his girlfriend, so the death of a great-aunt doesn't make much of an impression. But in the box of things she left him, he finds an unnamed picture of a Victorian officer, which he believes may be one of his ancestors. He's accompanied by his insane friend Pete (Tom Bennett) and sometimes his even more insane sister Bea (Nina Conti) who can only communicate via a foul-mouthed monkey hand puppet.

With the picture as his starting point, he begins to investigate the stories of his ancestors -- which involve the theatre, the Olympics, cousins on a farm, betrayal, hot-air balloons, sex and pantomime horses. Tom's quest even takes him over to the US, where he searches for a possible Native American ancestress, a guy who apparently fought for both sides in the Civil War, and some eccentric cousins from L.A.

Anyone familiar with Christopher Guest's movies will probably feel right at home in "Family Tree." It has Guest's usual approach -- a mockumentary where everybody acts and speaks in a very serious manner... except that they often do or say bizarre, hilarious things (Luba's speech about a strange virginity-and-egg-based Moldavian festival), or fail to understand what is going on around them (Pete and Tom do not understand that Great-Aunt Victoria was a lesbian).

It doesn't sound like there's much substance to the plot here, but Guest keeps things moving with a steady stream of quietly quirky stuff. It helps that much of the humor is subtle rather than obvious (Tom remarks that he has "a good six months of wallowing left" about his breakup and firing). The show loses some momentum when Tom travels to L.A., but things do pick up when he continues the quest for the story of his American cousins.

It also shows the subtler side of Chris O'Dowd's comic talents, and his grungy sad-eyed charm. Tom is the straight man in all this madness, and has a quietly broken quality that makes him instantly endearing. But he ultimately finds inspiration from the struggles of his ancestors, and the family-tree-tracing gives him something to focus on rather than his unemployed-and-single status. Also, O'Dowd is a LOT taller than I thought he was.

And as the straight man, he's surrounded by weirdos, played by Conti, McKean, Jim Piddock, Guest himself, Ed Begley Jr., Matt Griesser. These actors are what keep the slight plot conceit afloat -- without scenes like Bea and Monk bombing horribly at a wedding, the comedy would seem kind of one-note.

Sadly, HBO cancelled "Family Tree," presumably because it specializes in quirk rather than self-indulgence. But the one season is a charming, characteristically Guestian little adventure in genealogy. Fun and adorable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christopher Guest's BEST SHOW!, October 28, 2013
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
"Family Tree" is absolutely hilarious. Every episode is superb, with Chris O'Dowd heading a terrific ensemble cast. For the millions of us who are dabbling in our own ancestry searches, who better to lampoon the process, and the inherent anticipations of ancient greatness, than comic genius Christopher Guest? The first season takes O'Dowd's character, Tom, through the ups and downs of genealogy tracking, meeting so called experts and distant cousins with family secrets. Tom goes from the UK to America, as he discovers one of his Grandfathers did the opposite of most people, and actually moved from America to the UK. "Idiot" is the term Tom ascribes to this ancester for that miscalculation. As he explores his possible Native American roots, he meets his U.S relations. All are a funny collection of oddballs, with Guest, himself appearing as one of the oddest. So, so funny. But, one of the best characters throughout the season, is Tom's sister, Bea, a ventriloquist, who relates largely to people through her monkey hand puppet. His name is "Monk" or just "Monkey" and everyone involved, treats him as part of the family. He says all the deranged and nasty stuff, she is thinking but can't say. OMG. Side splitting hilarity! I cannot wait for Season 2 of "Family Tree," and is it too much to ask, that Guest maybe give Bea and "Monk" their own show? Great stuff!

Certain Adverse Events
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite series in years...hope season 2 comes along soon!, April 10, 2014
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
Love the actors, the quirky and hilarious characters they portray, and the writing and direction. Both funny and heartfelt, thank you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good!, March 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
This show is unlike anything else I have seen and i love it! I heard it has been cancelled though, which is a bummer because I definitely wanted to see more of the character's journey! but glad I have the dvd in my collection so I can watch it any time!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Really Funny Series, November 8, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
This is really funny and I can't wait for the second season. Christopher Guest continues to entertain and amuse. Worth the money Spent.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful series, September 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
I am so sorry that HBO decided not to renew this series. It's the same people who did "Spinal Tap," "Waiting for Guffman," and "Best in Show," and Chris O'Dowd fits right in with the usual suspects. He's looking for information on his family, which takes him from the UK to the USA, and he meets lots of strange people along the way. It's very low key, and it's worth watching more than once just to see what you missed the first time through. It's delightful, if you like that sort of thing, and I do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Chris O'Dowd, December 25, 2013
By 
Jenny "robotmunky" (Bay Area, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
I love Chris Guest and Chris O'Dowd is great in this. I'd been waiting for another Guest film and this didn't disappoint.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Guest's BEST work- HBO- PLEASE Bring It Back!, July 5, 2014
By 
trancelucence "Leigh" (East of the sun, West of the moon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
I am a big Christopher Guest fan, this kind of humor JUST my cup of tea, celebrating people's good faith efforts to figure things out and roll with life's punches, while cutting each other considerable slack with our respective lunacies. There are SO many priceless characters here, I really think this is the most incisive, inspired work of Guest's career (and the most subtle, not a "mockumentary" per se, the characterizations more finely drawn, the characters well-meaning, caring and lovable- quite real). As a bi-cultural sort, Guest is ideally qualified/situated to gently lampoon both Americans and Brits, lots of cross-cultural humor to explore.

For some reason I got the impression and couldn't shake it that Monk/Monkey, the puppet (adept at online chat among other things!) is channeling Joan Plowright! What a great character, and choice lines, along with so many others: lackadaisical, tres HIP Native Americans, dutiful Civil War re-enactors- actually, EVERYONE interesting and revealing of human nature. And even tongue-in-cheek programs the characters watch on their OWN TVs (referencing Star Trek, Dr. Who, Benny Hill, Sherlock Holmes, and more)- circular self-reference elevated to an art form, like an Escher painting, brilliant, revealing, priceless. I'm so disappointed HBO canceled the series, for one thing, Guest does an absolutely SPLENDID job of lovingly parodying the British- more incisive, canny characterizations of what makes them both hilarious and dear I've never seen.

But everyone is great, Brits and Yanks alike, from Ed Begley Jr.'s earnest, deadpan delivery as a conspiracy theorist seeing patterns everywhere, to Tom's ever-crude but eternally plucky best friend Pete, to Tom himself, the wonderful Irish actor Chris O'Dowd (who played Kristen Wiig's love interest in Bridesmaids). Here's he's the glue that ties it all together, seeking his roots, excited about possibilities, endlessly patient, with hidden depths and surprising facets- Everyman, and we're rooting for him. I watched the entire season in one sitting, I want MORE. Twould be nice if HBO brought it back. If we're lucky perhaps Guest & Co. are working behind the scenes to bring the show to another venue.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely delightful, June 23, 2014
By 
Kathleen A. Baxter (Minneapolis, MN USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Family Tree: Season 1 (DVD)
I am into genealogy, my husband is not, and was highly skeptical when I purchased and wanted to watch this. He absolutely adored it! We both did, were laughing throughout and we were both delighted, but really disappointed that the series was only made for one season. It is great fun.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Family Tree: Season 1
Family Tree: Season 1 by Chris O'Dowd (DVD - 2013)
$29.98 $23.33
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.