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RELATIVE EVIL is a masterfully well-made black comedy about addiction, recovery, and the people -family, "friends", nefarious doctors- who try to derail the whole bloody process! Jennifer Tilly (BOUND) is perrrfectly wicked as the diabolical, conniving aunt who convinces JJ's dad and uncle to cash in on his life insurance policy. All of the temptations, pitfalls, and disasters of recovery are amplified as the vultures circle. Funny, frightening, and sometimes devastatingly real, RE points out the horrors of trying to stay clean in an addicted world. If you've ever struggled w/ addiction, or known others who have, you'll recognize the truth behind the dark humor. Highly recommended...
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on February 2, 2016
Relative Evil aka Ball in the House is not a comedy, black or otherwise; is not a thriller; is not an inspirational drama; and is not a documentary. Nor do I think this movie is in the least confused about what it wants to be, what direction it wants to take, nor what its message is. This movie is simply hard to quantify, to fit neatly in a genre box. At most it could be classified as a pseudo-documentary, but not the kind that is a spoof or farce, worst of all it is a monster movie. The movie misses the mark as a drama, it takes way too many liberties with the literal truth of what could or would or might or does happen in these situations in real life in order to document the spiritual atrocities that occur every day, hour, minute in these types of situations. The people fall through cracks, sometimes they fall through crack after crack after crack. Unbelievable, viewers would say, too many coincidences all piled upon one another if it occurred in a movie, but those are the facts of a real life. The system knows and acknowledges people need the best and strongest supports to succeed and to rehabilitate and people don't have them. Some people would be better off to start anywhere anew, rather than return to their previous environment, but many are tied there by circumstances such as being juveniles, handicapped, not financially independent, etc. So the system says they have to lean to cope in the real life lousy world they have been in. Nor is this movie about how all the blame can be placed on the mom or dad. This movie says rehabilitation turns a blind eye to the facts, all it takes to bring a person trying to succeed and rehabilitate down is one determined and devious person. Yet most who return to the community are going to face far more than one obstacle. These many and varied, some predictable and others from left field, obstacles function the same as the one insidious person in this movie. Yet Relative Evil only superficially represents reality here while seeming to be deeply rooted in true to life and misjudging at turn after turn after turn what would, could, might or does happen. The system allows people to fall through cracks because not facing facts (because how can one change the unchangeable anyway) sets up the system up for misjudging what can and does occur to people and sets up people to stay stuck and continue to relapse. However, at bottom Ball in the House makes all these sacrifices, warps what does happen, to depict a monster. The aunt in this movie is the inevitable, the inescapable, the unchangeable. The worst monster can turn out to be your relative, yourself, your abuser, your supplier, your friends, your girl or boy friend, your inability to get a job, or to hold down a job, or to make enough money, your status as a minor, as a woman, as a minority, etc. Who cares about blame? What about truth? How can the main character fight the monster if he never even identifies who she is? Who can rehabilitate when the monster we never identify lives with us in our home and we are required to return home? No this movie is not comfortable to watch, facing the truth can hurt.
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on May 2, 2007
I found this movie to be quite depressing because it is very realistic. It seems to be marketed as a sort of thriller, but I think it is much more a psychological story. Much of the movie is taken up with J.J.'s psychological counseling and his psychologist. This certainly is not a feel-good movie. Simply put, it shows how important a positive support system is for a juvenile who comes out of drug rehabilitation or some juvenile criminal institution. This movie would probably be best shown to families of kids finishing their time in the institution so it can be discussed. Hopefully, it would help some families (at least a few) avoid placing undo pressures on their child that will result in his or her self-destructive thinking. This movie shows how the relatives and friends created situations that put 'JJ' back on the path to more time in a juvenile institution, and, as he gets older, will result surely in prison.
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on November 27, 2008
The characters in this movie are people that you can actually imagine meeting: Real, working class people trying to make it through life subject to many constraints.

The acing was good throughout and with all characters.

One big problem was imagining that a psychiatrist could be coopted for a very small amount of insurance money ($50,000) to try to violate his ethics and prompt a patient to kill himself. The whole movie was not premised on this, and so the whole plot did not shatter when we found out that the psychiatrist was the "other person." It did, however, severely weaken the believability of the whole movie.
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Relative Evil (Tanya Wexler, 2001)

I had originally intended to mention during the course of this review that Tanya Wexler's Relative Evil (also released under the title Ball in the House) didn't know what kind of movie it wanted to be--comedy, thriller, or inspirational drama. As we went on, however, I think Wexler (Hysteria) and screenwriter Matthew Swan (Mr. Smith Gets a Hustler) did figure out what kind of movie they wanted it to be--but not until after they'd used up too much of the movie's budget to go back and reshoot the early comedic scenes, which stick out like Times Square were it moved to central Wyoming in this otherwise bleak, pitiless picture.

Plot: we open in rehab. JJ (The Ruins' Jonathan Tucker) is telling the tale of how he ended up there--in a partial body cast, no less--in a group therapy session led by his doctor, whom we only ever know as Dr. Charlie (L. A. Confidential's David Strathairn). It takes a long, long time--six months, in fact--but eventually Dr. Charlie recommends JJ be returned to the world, a week before his eighteenth birthday. And thus we meet JJ's family--mother Phyllis (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind's Deirdre O'Connell), stepfather Bull (American Gangster's Dan Moran), little brother Benji (One Small Hero's Nathan Kiley in his final, to date, screen appearance; he's moved behind the camera to direct), Uncle Ernie (Stir of Echoes's Larry Neumann Jr.), and Aunt Dot (Bound's Jennifer Tilly). They're not the most functional of families; I had Harry Dean Stanton's brood from Twister in mind much of the time. Except Aunt Dot, it turns out, is a bit more sinister than anyone in that movie; she's taken out a $75,000 life insurance policy on JJ, good until he turns eighteen, naming she and Bull as beneficiaries--and she's managed to get Bull to sign it. JJ has no idea what sort of vipers' tangle he's walking into, but he has enough problems of his own trying to stay clean and keep the steel-mill job Bull got for him while constantly being courted back to the dark side by constantly-tipsy Dot, old coke buddy Bobby (Vacancy's Ethan Embry), and Bobby's on-again-off-again girlfriend Lizzie (Red Dirt's Aleksa Palladino). And just to add the cherry on top of this whole mess, the night JJ goes home, the area is hit with a freak snowstorm that basically confines the entire family to the house.

Once the movie gets into its groove, which happens about halfway through, this becomes a serviceable thriller that's willing to edge into some pretty dark territory and delivers a quite unexpected knockout punch during its climax. Unfortunately, while it's getting there, it has a tendency to meander that kills any tension the movie tries to build in its first half. Which certainly doesn't mean it's worth watching; just be prepared to not be sure exactly what the movie is for a while. ** ½
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on April 18, 2014
Not crazy about films that keep switching time frames that don't really tell you it was done. The storyline was a little week.
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on April 17, 2014
The acting is good especially the lead. However the script and plot are full of discrepancies and inaccuracies. No rehab counselor would have recommended this young man go back to his extremely dysfunctional family. Talk about the Addams Family or the Munsters; this bunch of yo-yos after CPS investigated would have made sure this kid went to Aftercare in a solid TRCF for Juveniles or at least placed in a Half-way House Program or a D.O.C. monitored and regulated pre-release long-term, court-ordered Program. No way to wiggle out of this stipulation would have been tailored and written into this sentence.. The fault in the story-line makes it not only inaccurate, but full of serious faults in conceptualizations, that would never stand up to scrutiny by anyone fully cognizant of the "real-life" sceanrio, making this script weak and poorly conceived.
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on January 3, 2014
We only watched about 15 minutes of the movie before turning it off. The plot I believe is a sound one, even though it's been done many times before, the director missed his chance to capture the audience in the beginning of the show. The name of the show tells it all, so why do we have to drudge through how it got to this point in the beginning? It could have been presented by memory shot's or flashbacks if you will.
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on October 14, 2014
Movie was good but kind of generic. Good for when there's nothing else on.
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on December 12, 2013
i was expecting something like a suspense thriller in this movie and almost halfway through the movie, still theres none, I stopped watching...this is more of a drama I think... maybe there is a suspense at the end- I don't know...
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