The In-Laws Review

Gary Couzens has reviewed the theatrical release of The In-Laws, a comedy-thriller starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks that’s utterly unsubstantial but entertains for an hour and a half.

The In-Laws was released in the UK and Ireland on 11 July.

Dr Jerome Peyser (Albert Brooks) is a podiatrist who could only be more anal if he were a proctologist. His daughter Melissa is about to marry Mark Tobias (Ryan Reynolds), and naturally they want Jerome to meet Mark’s father, Steve (Michael Douglas), who’s a Xerox salesman. But Steve is really an undercover CIA operative who, with sidekick Angela (Robin Tunney), thinks nothing of getting out of the way of bullets, flying halfway round the world in private jets and having dealings with international arms smugglers like Jean-Pierre Thibodoux (David Suchet). When Steve takes Jerome and their children to dinner, little does Jerome know that soon he’ll be witness to Steve dispatching a villain in the toilet and be caught up in a whole bigger adventure than he ever dreamed of…

If this sounds familiar, you may (unlike me) have seen the 1979 film of the same title, written by Andrew Bergman, directed by Arthur Hiller, and starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. Twenty-four years seems a little soon for a remake, but in its defence the original In-Laws is hardly rated as a classic. This new version is as light as air, but it still entertains for the hour and a half it’s on. Andrew Fleming is a director who has certainly made enjoyable films in the past, such as The Craft and Threesome. (Dick is reputedly good too, but I haven’t seen it.) He’s a director for hire here with no script involvement, but he does an efficient job, and along with editor Mia Goldman, keeps the film moving forward. Thanks to DP Alexander Gruszynski and production designer Andrew McAlpine, The In-Laws is a handsome-looking movie.

The two stars play off each other nicely, though this isn’t really a stretch for either of them. The rest of the cast have less to do, though Robin Tunney has her moments and Candice Bergen is nicely acid in a smallish role as Steve’s ex-wife. Not everything works: a running joke involving Thibodoux’s infatuation for Jerome falls particularly flat. But at least it does entertain, and doesn’t outstay its welcome. It may be fluff, but it’s well-turned fluff.


Updated: Jul 12, 2003

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