you can't choose your relatives...
...do you mind if I give it a shot? In a recent letter to Roger Ebert's Movie Answer Man, a film viewer suggests that hiring actors who bear little to no resemblance to one another to play kin is no way to win over an audience:
My wife and I recently saw "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" on video, and while we greatly enjoyed it, there was one aspect that bothered both of us: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play brothers involved in a botched robbery. Our problem is that while both men are very good actors, they hardly look like members of the same species, let alone siblings. I think this incongruity prevented us from completely getting into the story and marred what was otherwise an excellent film.
I feel bad for Mr. and Mrs. Schwind from Martinsburg, W. Virginia; it seems as if filmmaker Sidney Lumet really let them down. The Schwinds were so close to enjoying a well crafted picture, only to find their suspension of disbelief sabotaged by this awkward selection of talent. Well... what's done is done, but these folks deserve a little more consideration in the future if they are ever again to believe that actors who are not related are related. Here are some of my suggestions for actors who could play family (pay attention, casting directors!):
Cameron Diaz as Ellen Barkin's daughter:
When I first saw Diaz in The Mask, I did a double take. "Jeez," I thought, "Ellen Barkin had a lot of work done!" There was, of course, no way she could have been stretched and/or lifted enough to appear as a 22 year old in the 1994 production. Cameron's sexiness in the film is amplified by the fact that she looks like a younger Barkin, and I have to admit that I find the now 54 year old Barkin kinda hot 'cause she looks like Diaz.
Albert Brooks as Ben Savage's father:
The resemblance was certainly there during the Boy Meets World years. Has anyone seen Ben in the last eight years? For that matter, anyone who has seen Brooks lately may contend that he is more apt to be cast as Savage's grandfather.
Jason Lee and Scott Patterson as brothers:
Surly, laconic, and scruffy... With such masculine vibes emanating from both of these actors, why do I constantly wonder if the same beautician tweezes their eyebrows? Given Lee's experience working with director Kevin Smith and Patterson's seven year stint on Gilmore Girls, we can be fairly certain that their project will be dialogue driven.
Ving Rhames and Michael Clarke Duncan as cousins:
Identical cousins and you'll find, They laugh alike, they walk alike, At times they even talk alike -- You can lose your mind, When cousins are two of a kind.
Renee Zellweger and Ellen Pompeo as sisters:
I can't watch Grey's Anatomy without noticing that Pompeo is becoming increasingly squidgy faced. She and Zellweger may not be twins, but their citrus-reaction like expressions are enough to convince me that they could be wading in the same gene pool.