Thursday, August 26, 2021

[DVD Review] - V.C. Andrews' Landry Family

I'm getting to where I dislike almost every book-to-film adaptation that Hollywood cranks out for us poor souls to devour. Instead of going by the book, studios like to water down the story, revamp characters, dumbify the dialogue, and ignore plot points. Why do they do this? Budgetary issues and runtime restraints have something to do with it. Sometimes there are too many cooks in the kitchen - aka too many studio-heads inferring with production. Made-for-television movies and miniseries tend to be the worse (with the expectation of a few Stephen King adaptations and the North and South miniseries from the 1980s).  

I have a love-hate relationship with the V.C. Andrews franchise. Yes, V.C. Andrews is a franchise (or a name brand). The real V.C. Andrews died in 1986, and ever since then, author Andrew Neiderman has penned new books under her name. The recent batch of stories has been ugh! And I have the same opinion of Hollywood movie adaptations, starting the incest-free Flowers in the Attic in 1989 to the recent made-for-Lifetime campy flicks.

Lifetime aired V.C. Andrews' Landry Family four-movie series for two weekends in March 2021. Even though I knew they would somehow mess up the adaptations, I went ahead and watched these disasters. Then I recently rewatched the films on a two-disc DVD set from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Well, the first film, Ruby, isn't a complete disaster. It's the best and my favorite from the series, despite many flaws.  

For those who have never read the Landry Family books, let me give you a quick recap. The first four books (Ruby, Pearl in the Mist, All That Glitters, and Hidden Jewel) centers on Ruby Landry, a teenager living with her grandparents in the Louisana bayou. After Grandmere Catherine's death, Grandpere Jack attempts to sell Ruby to an older man. Ruby escapes and travels to New Orleans, where she meets her birth father and twin sister, Gisselle. In Pearl in the Mist, Ruby and Gisselle attend an all-girls school. No matter how hard Ruby tries to fit in, her bayou roots come back to haunt her. Despite leaving her newfound heritage behind, Ruby finds herself back in the high society world in All That Glitters, when she marries her half-brother, Paul Tate. Tragedy strikes. And, Ruby has no other choice but to take her sister's identity to give her daughter, Pearl, a better life. And she switches husbands. An adult Ruby must confront her family's voodoo past in Hidden Jewel.  

The movie adaptations are cheap, campy, and confusing for anyone who hasn't read the books. You can't adapt 400+ plus novels into 87-minute movies! There are missing characters, dialogue, motivations, and scenes. For some reason, the directors believed the Landry books were dark comedies. There were too many scenes filmed as if they were supposed to be funny. The same thing goes with some of the performances. Karina Banno's portrayal of Gisselle comes off a bit too goofy. The character should have been more menacing. Now, I'm not blaming the actress. Once again, I'm blaming the directors. Speaking of directors, anybody, and I mean anybody, could have directed these movies. I'm calling this generic filmmaking. 

What the hell is with the music? None of the scores fit in with the actual scenes. It's the most generic and boring music ever put to screen. Lazy!  

What is with the casting? Why would anyone in their right mind hire Naomi Judd as an actress?! She's horrible as Grandmere Catherine. And what's with Paul and Beau? These characters were miscast. The rest of the cast is tolerable if you lower standards. (FYI: Raechelle Banno does a decent job as Ruby.)

Yeah, there's no 'Final Thoughts' for this review. What's the point? I don't have the ability to time travel and prevent these films from being made.

By now, you're probably wondering why in the hell would I want to rewatch these movies if I disliked them so damn much. Contrary to all my nitpicking, I have a guilty pleasure for campy movies, and you can't get any campier than the V.C. Andrews Landry Family.


  1. I loved all of that series in books, but doubt I would enjoy the films much.

    1. I had forgotten to mention that the book's setting is in Louisiana (though the movies were filmed in Canada), and none of the characters have the correct accent. Not unless you like campy movies, I wouldn't recommend watching the series.


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