Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron's Netflix Rom-Com 'A Family Affair' Struggles with Low Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

Jun, 28 2024

Disappointing Reception for a Star-Studded Cast

'A Family Affair,' the latest romantic-comedy from Netflix, has received lukewarm reviews despite featuring an impressive cast. Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron, two of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, lead this movie, but even their star power has done little to shield it from criticism. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 53%, the film has struggled to find favor with critics and audiences alike. Much of the criticism focuses on its simplistic plot, lackluster script, and perceived reliance on the chemistry between its lead actors.

The Storyline: A Lighthearted Rom-Com

Unlike their previous collaboration, 'The Paperboy,' which was a gritty crime drama, 'A Family Affair' opts for a more lighthearted approach. The film revolves around a shallow Hollywood actor, played by Efron, who finds himself entangled in an affair with his assistant's mother, portrayed by Kidman. While the storyline is intended to be charming and humorous, many reviewers have noted that it falls short in delivering a compelling narrative. Despite its rom-com premise, the film struggles to bring out both romance and comedy effectively.

A History of Unsuccessful Collaborations

This isn't the first time Kidman and Efron have teamed up with underwhelming results. Their previous film together, 'The Paperboy,' was met with even harsher criticism and a significantly lower Rotten Tomatoes score of 45%. Directed by Lee Daniels, that movie was a dark and gritty examination of crime and corruption in the South but failed to resonate with audiences, grossing only $3.78 million at the box office. Both films share an audience score of 33%, suggesting that while Kidman and Efron may have individual star power, their collaborations have yet to produce a hit.

A Nailed-Down Rom-Com Genre

Netflix has a history of producing romantic comedies, a genre that has found a comfortable home on the streaming platform. Titles like 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' and 'The Kissing Booth' have garnered massive popularity. However, 'A Family Affair' seems to miss the mark, unable to capture the same magic. Despite its attempt at being a light, engaging rom-com, the movie's weak plot and character development have not met the standards set by previous hits in the same genre.

Strikes and Delays Add to the Woes

Strikes and Delays Add to the Woes

The release of 'A Family Affair' was initially set for November 2023 but was delayed due to industry strikes, which added to the anticipation surrounding the film. Unfortunately, the added time did not result in an improved final product. Some hoped that delays might lead to a more polished film, but initial reviews indicate otherwise. The expected excitement turned into disappointment for many viewers, further compounded by high expectations given the star-studded cast.

Supporting Cast: A Wasted Opportunity?

Aside from Kidman and Efron, 'A Family Affair' boasts a strong supporting cast featuring Joey King, Kathy Bates, and Liza Koshy. Each of these actors has a significant following and notable performances in their careers. However, their talents seem underutilized in this film. Kathy Bates, known for her compelling and versatile roles, and Joey King, celebrated for her performances in both drama and comedy, have not been able to lift the overall quality of the movie. Liza Koshy's addition aimed to bring a youthful, comedic edge, but critics say the script did not allow her to shine.

The Future for Kidman and Efron Collaborations

With two underwhelming films together, the question arises whether Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron should consider future collaborations. Both actors have proven track records of success in various genres separately. However, their on-screen chemistry does not seem to translate well into captivating movies. It remains to be seen if they will attempt to team up again or if these experiences will push them to seek out different co-stars in future projects. Given the talented rosters already associated with rom-coms on Netflix, there might be a shift to pair each of them with different actors to find winning combinations.

What Does This Mean for Netflix's Rom-Com Strategy?

What Does This Mean for Netflix's Rom-Com Strategy?

Netflix has invested significantly in the romantic-comedy genre, acknowledging its potential for substantial viewership. While some of their releases have been met with great success, 'A Family Affair' serves as a reminder that not every project will be a hit. The platform might take this as a learning experience to either invest more in script and story development or adjust its marketing strategies. Whether 'A Family Affair' will eventually find a niche audience or fade into the obscurity of lesser-known Netflix titles is yet to be seen.

Audience Reception: A Mixed Bag

The film's audience reception has been mixed, with an approval score similar to 'The Paperboy.' This consistency in lukewarm audience response reveals a potential disconnect between what Netflix is banking on and what viewers actually enjoy. Online forums and social media platforms are abuzz with viewers expressing their disappointment while some fans appreciate the attempt at a different take on the rom-com genre. The polarized audience reception highlights that star power alone cannot save a film lacking in story and execution.


'A Family Affair' may have had the ingredients for a successful Netflix romantic-comedy at the outset: talented actors, a reputed streaming platform, and a lighthearted plot. However, the execution has fallen short according to critics and audiences alike. As Netflix continues to navigate its extensive genre catalog, the mixed reviews for this film serve as a reminder of the complexities involved in creating universally appealing content. Whether it marks a pivot point for the streaming giant's approach to rom-coms or merely a blip in its expanding B-movie archive, one thing is clear: not every family affair makes for a compelling story.