In "Cold Turkey," the Turner clan celebrates Thanksgiving the way many American households do: with turkey, football and family secrets.
Patriarch Poppy (a hangdog Peter Bogdanovich) is a semi-retired foreign policy expert now shuffling through his days buzzed on iced white wine. He's also a feckless father to three children from two marriages: his youngest, Jacob (Ashton Holmes), who doesn't quite have the chops to follow his dad's career trajectory; his oldest, Lindsay (Sonya Walger), a onetime wild child who's now a suburban mom and yoga teacher; and his smart, free-spirited middle child, Nina (Alicia Witt), whose bygone beef with Dad's wife (Cheryl Hines) is the reason they haven't all been under one roof in 15 years.
Over the course of three days, each approaches Poppy for money for convoluted schemes gone wrong, culminating in a turkey dinner that can only end badly.
With Poppy's Pasadena home as the film's only significant setting, wicked dialogue filling in backstory and an ambivalent ending, writer-director Will Slocombe's script feels fit for the stage, where some of the more theatrical performances might translate better. Still, Slocombe's camera moves fluidly through the house's rooms, halls and yard for a look that's not of a filmed play but cinematic, and he adds unexpected ingredients to "Cold Turkey" for a fresh take on a familiar recipe.
"Cold Turkey." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena. Also on VOD.
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