The In-Laws

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner7/07/2003

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

So-so ‘buddy’ comedy that depends largely on your tolerance for Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks. Nice soundtrack though.

The In-Laws has the credit “Based on the screenplay by Andrew Bergman”, which is a fancy way of saying it’s a remake of a little-seen 1979 film that starred Alan Arkin and Peter Falk.

However, it’s been more or less re-tooled so that now it might has well be called The Michael Douglas Vanity Project, although if your Michael Douglas / Albert Brooks tolerance is high enough, then there are a few laughs to be had here.

CIA spoil possible surprise

The film opens with CIA Agent Michael on a Top Secret Mission, thereby robbing the audience of the suspicion later on that his CIA claims might be a crazy fantasy, as was the point of the original movie. However, Douglas has to interrupt his mission because he has to meet his son’s (Ryan ‘Van Wilder’ Reynolds) future in-laws (Albert Brooks and Maria Ricossa).

From then on it becomes one of those mismatched ‘buddy’ movies, as Albert Brooks’ neurotic podiatrist becomes accidentally embroiled in Douglas’ case involving smugglers and a nuclear submarine.

This somehow involves him posing as a crime figure known as ‘The Fat Cobra’ in order to distract the attentions of David Suchet’s camp Eurovillain. Yes, if you’ve ever wanted to see Albert Brooks kiss David Suchet, this is the movie for you.

Magnificent Retro Soundtrack

To be fair, it rattles along nicely and there’s a superb retro soundtrack that really picks things up during some of the duller scenes. Douglas is obviously having the time of his life and emerges as a surprisingly likeable character. (Strangely, he doesn’t get to kiss anyone – Catherine Zeta Jones must be watching him like a hawk). As for Brooks, his sub-Woody Allen style of whiny neurotic comedy won’t be to everyone’s taste, but he gets several good lines and proves a good foil for Douglas.

Suchet camps it up outrageously and is probably better than the film really deserves. There’s also good support from both Reynolds (whose resemblance to Ryan O’Neill is uncanny) and Robin Tunney (who seems to get sexier with each movie she does) as Angela, Douglas’ partner. It’s Candice Bergen who nearly steals the show, though – her role as Douglas’ bitter, tactless ex-wife is very amusing.

In short, this is a passable comedy – it’s not brilliant but it’s never less than watchable and there are a few good moments.

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Content updated: 09/12/2019 11:04

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