The In-Laws Review

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Uptight Chicago podiatrist Jerry's meticulous arrangements for his daughter's wedding unravel when the groom's devil-may-care father, Steve, arrives. Stumbling upon Steve's nefarious intrigues, Jerry is shanghaied on an international arms-smuggling escapade with the prospective in-law who claims to be a deep cover secret agent.


You can just imagine the pitch for this modestly agreeable re-make of Arthur Hiller's zanier 1979 rib-tickler (which paired Alan Arkin as the father of the bride with Peter Falk as the possibly crazy in-law to be).

Odd couple comedies that team an ageing Oscar-winning actor who wants to do a comedy with a comedian who will play the foil are a thing (Anger Management, Analyse That); spy spoofs and weddings gone awry always float; nobody will remember the original movie anyway; blah blah blah...

The original picture was written by Andrew Bergman, who used to write laugh riots (Blazing Saddles) until it all went pear-shaped (Striptease). Bergman's screenplay has been re-tooled by Nat Mauldin (Doctor Doolittle) and Ed Solomon (Men In Black, Charlie's Angels), with the best stuff left out, presumably so that Michael Douglas can play a rogueish superspy without being made to look silly and without mussing his hair. Speaking of which, what's up with that blonde do?

For this reason, they apparently couldn't decide at first whether they were doing a comedy or a comic thriller. The film opens with a familiar 'espionage in Prague' prologue which establishes that Steve is leading a dangerous double life - thus blowing the potential for the audience to think he might just be nuts when he embroils mild-mannered, phobia-ridden square Jerry in his colourful fantasy adventure.

The welcome entrance of David 'Poirot' Suchet hamming it up as a camp Euro-villain (who doesn't torture his victims since he's discovered meditation; now he lets them run before he shoots them) clears things up in the genre-defining department. Candice Bergen as the embittered ex-wife who detests Steve, but gets excited remembering what great sex they had, is also a hoot but underused. Which leaves director Fleming to paper over the missteps and mundane dips with a couple of very cute CG and digital imaging enhanced action scenes.

Slick but uninspired, with no great chemistry to boast of and some obvious opportunities for gags curiously overlooked. It does benefit from a smart cast, an amusing retro soundtrack and some situations so absurd you have to laugh. A bit.