Far too many comedies skimp on plot and hope that jokes and one-liners can carry the movie. Weak on storyline and strong in guffaws, In-Laws does nothing to buck this trend.
In-Laws stars Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas as future fathers-in-law in a remake of the 1979 comedy starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. Dr. Jerome Peyser (Brooks) is a fanny pack wearing podiatrist while Steve Tobias (Douglas) is apparently a Xerox salesman. In actuality, Tobias is a CIA agent living a double life (aren’t we all!) who when partnered with the beautiful Robin Tunney (The Craft), tries to stop an arms dealer from acquiring a nuclear sub. Jerry meticulously plans the nuptials of his daughter (Lindsay Stone) while Steve, a typical movie dad, is never there for his son, Mark (Ryan Reynolds, star of Van Wilder). Unwittingly, Jerry becomes involved in Steve’s CIA doings and that is where most of the jokes ensue. David Suchet plays the French arms dealer who is smitten with Jerry aka the “Fat Cobra”. If you think you have seen everything this world has to offer, now think of Al Brooks wearing a red thong. I hope that image is burned on your brain forever.
In-Laws blows its entire run time jumping back and forth from wedding plans to CIA shenanigans. Steve keeps interlacing the arms deal with his rehearsal dinner in hopes of being there for his son. I think we all can guess how that is gonna turn out. While Steve and Jerry travel around the world, the FBI tails them as they think Steve is a rogue agent gone bad and Jerry is perceived to be a part of his seedy world. Those same FBI agents provide a little comic relief but their part in the ending sucks whatever bit of realism is left out of the plot.
Brooks’s neurotic behavior is the spark for most of the humor in the film. Douglas shows surprising hilarity as he does his best to poke fun at his own image. However, Bergman and Suchet might steal the movie with small but outrageously funny parts.
One-liners and jokes can’t save this remake. The plot, while shaky at first, just completely deteriorates about half way through. The climatic scene is just ridiculous, coming across as forced and contrived. With those complaints noted, the movie still provides numerous laugh-out-loud moments. Is that enough to make a great movie? DirectoryAndrew Fleming thinks so; too bad for the audience.