For this adaptation of their bestselling memoir Either You’re In or You’re in the Way, twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller have harnessed—and largely squandered—the talents of Ed Harris, Brad Dourif, Robert Forster, and Lee Meriweather. A sappy Hallmark card of a movie dedicated to the memory of the filmmakers’ deceased father, Touching Home strenuously aspires to the same sort of greatness that has alluded many a film before it, like the heavy-handed, Gone with the Wind-grubbing Raintree Country.
The brothers, though, do not work with an epic scale. They wish to capture the much smaller social contours and emotional nuances of films such as Sounder and Hud, but they only know how to paint their lower-class milieu in the broadest strokes possible. Their characters are all entirely defined by single traits, and as a result, an obvious sense of frustration registers on the actors’ faces: Harris as the drunken father, a game Dourif as the Lenny-like retarded innocent of an uncle, Forster as a kind-hearted local police officer, and Meriweather as the granny who expertly pours herself refrigerated boxed wine while holding a cigarette in her hand.
The story, about minor-league baseball-aspiring brothers Lane and Clint Winston (played by Logan and Noah) and their struggles with Becoming My Father Syndrome, dispiritedly chugs along toward the much-telegraphed climax where Charlie (Harris) steals the cash Lane (Logan Miller)—whose BMFS is more advanced than that of his more forgiving brother’s—needs in order to get to the unfortunate state of Arizona. Though Harris’s interpretation of Charlie’s world-weary physicality is impressive, and there’s a tossed-off sort of charm to scenes that depict Lane and Clint playing baseball and hanging with their buds, the film’s obvious sincerity is its own worst enemy. A hodgepodge of Steinbeckian clichés, Touching Home is not a film that exists for our benefit, only for that of two filmmaker brothers still grappling with all the good and bad their father heaped on them.