The In-Laws

The In-Laws


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Michael Douglas hasn't been close to comedy since Romancing The Stone and even that was more of an adventure than a gagfest, although his cameo in One Night At McCool's gave an indication of what he is capable of in the gentle art of self-mockery.

Playing a freelance special agent, called Steve Tobias, who takes dangerous assignments as casually as kicking a chicken and appears to know how to fly a plane one handed and shoot a tranquilliser dart from a calliper with the ease of Roger Moore in his horizontal phase, he is definitely enjoying the moment. The question is, are you?

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The film begins like The Avengers 2, a spoof of a spoof, and the heart sinks. Once the gunfights and car chases have been exhausted and the location reverts from Prague to Chicago, where Steve's son Mark (Ryan Reynolds) is preparing to be put through the ordeal of a formal marriage, the comedy kicks in, or, to be more accurate, Albert Brooks, as the future bride's father, Jerry Reyser, is introduced, and you know you are in safe hands.

For those who remember Midnight Run, with Robert De Niro, Jerry is a dead ringer for the Charles Grodin character. As an example of comic timing, Brooks is flawless. He steals the picture from under Douglas's nose and, to be fair, Douglas is magnanimous about it, never intentionally grandstanding him.

Jerry is a foot doctor, who takes his daughter's nuptials deadly seriously, much to her chagrin, until Mark reminds her: "Weddings aren't about the bride and groom." He is mild mannered, but precise, who has phobias about everything ("He had an anxiety attack, watching an airline commercial") and finds removing a patient's shoe the limit of his excitement.

Much to his disquiet and, at times, dumb terror, he becomes embroiled in Steve's undercover work, even finding himself the object of desire from a psychotic international master criminal (inspired performance from David Suchet). When invited by Steve to try the ethnic cuisine at "an interesting restaurant", his reply is typical: "How ethnic?"

The plot should implode, with so much being thrown together, but doesn't, because of terrific central performances, a well-honed script and the energy of its young director, Andrew (The Cult) Fleming. The faux thriller spoofery goes silly-side-up and Steve's boisterous young assistant (Robin Tunney) isn't given enough to do, but this is a small price to pay for the genius that is Brooks..

"This wedding is going to be as normal as butter on mashed potatoes," Steve says.

Some hope.

Reviewed on: 10 Jul 2003
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A foot doctor, father of the bride gets caught up in the spy shenanigans of the father of the groom.
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Director: Andrew Fleming

Writer: Nat Mauldin, Ed Solomon, based on a screenplay by Andrew Bergman

Starring: Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks, Robin Tunney, Ryan Reynolds, Candice Bergen, David Suchet, Lindsay Sloane, Maria Ricossa

Year: 2003

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/Germany


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