The In-Laws

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’m a big believer in the fact that Albert Brooks might just be one of the funniest people who ever walked the face of the Earth. Even his voice has been used in “The Simpson’s” so many times and each one funnier than the last. I’m also a big believer that Michael Douglas (love him or hate him) has given us some of the better performances on screen. But let’s face it, they’re both getting old. Remakes are a dime a dozen in Hollywood these days and it seems that nothing is sacred when it comes to the promise of the almighty dollar. Case in point, we blinked and missed this movie last Spring and even the star power of Brooks and Douglas couldn’t save this doomed production. Douglas fired his agent after the movie came out. In theory it seemed right, casting Albert Brooks as a neurotic Podarist and possibly Douglas as a “Rouge” secret agent. But somehow, in the process of things, things got jumbled and the ending result is somewhat of a mess. Now the movie isn’t totally unwatchable, it does have its good moments and some funny lines. But those are few and far between and what we’re left with is somewhat of a headache and asking ourselves how we got suckered into watching this film to begin with.

Douglas and Brooks play Steve Tobias and Jerry Peyser (a secret agent and a podiatrist respectively). Tobias’ son, a lawyer, is set to be married to Peyser’s daughter. Peyser, a man of order and routine is the polar opposite of Tobias. Seeing that this man will soon be related to him bothers Jerry. Tobias lives life on the edge and Douglas almost pulls it off, but we don’t really get the feeling that he’s really “out there”. It just so happens that that Jerry gets involved on one of Steve’s adventures that leads them to the other side of the world. Now this is where I have a problem. The original villain (“original” as in the original movie) had a sock puppet by the name of “Senor Weences”. Perhaps the funniest element of the original, this is left out. Why? I have no idea. As opposed to dealing with everything that can go wrong with a wedding, the camera spends most of its time on Brooks and Douglas. Again, this is something that seems like a good idea on paper, but falls short in the film.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the worst movie you’ll ever see. The essential problem with it is that the whole thing is miscast. Brooks and Douglas are two major Hollywood stars, but they have their own genre of movies that they’re good at and that we like to see them in. This isn’t either. This is a cross between a remake of the original and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” in that you have some sort of love triangle between Douglas and his ex-wife (played by Candice Bergen, one of the genuine highlights of the movie). It’s very easy to sit back in hindsight and say what went wrong with a movie, but odds are that they didn’t know it would end up like this. I imagine the core audience for this movie might be the couples out there who are going to get married or those who have just been married. Perhaps they would find this a little more amusing that the rest of us? In any case, the heart is there but not the execution. For a much better time, check out the 1979 version of “The In Laws” or “Lost in America” with Albert Brooks. As for this, well, everyone deserves a second chance…

Video: How does it look?

I suppose the new trend is to release a movie in both a full-screen edition and a widescreen version. I remember one of the early selling points of DVD was that you could have both versions of the film on one disc. I had almost forgotten this too, but I watched on older disc the other day and was a bit surprised when I was greeted with “Which version of the film would you like to watch”? In any case, the widescreen version was reviewed here and the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is somewhat pleasing to the eye(s), but has its share of shortcomings as well. The print has a few imperfections to it that I wouldn’t have expected with a new to DVD release. Though edge enhancement isn’t really a factor, some of the scenes almost seem “fuzzy”. I’m not sure if this is the case with the full-screen version, but in any case I’d have to say that mostly appealing, this falls short on the video quality.

Audio: How does it sound?

As far as the audio is concerned, it’s on par with what we might expect from a newer comedy. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is very active and robust through a majority of the film, but in the scenes with dialogue, it tones down a few notches. Granted, we aren’t expecting to blow the roof off of the house, but it’s amazing what the discrete effects that the surrounds can do to enhance a soundtrack. For the most part, however, there isn’t really anything wrong with the track, but there’s really nothing to cheer about, either (not that we actually stand up and cheer when a soundtrack is good)!

Supplements: What are the extras?

A somewhat standard commentary track with Director Andrew Fleming (whose repitore includes “Dick”, “The Craft” and “Threesome” to name a few) is the highlight of the supplements (and possibly, the movie). While he speaks frankly, we can tell that his heart really isn’t in it. Some outtakes occupy a few minutes of the disc as do three deleted scenes. The original theatrical trailer for this and the original are also included, shown in anamorphic widescreen.

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