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The In-Laws Review

By Shawn McKenzie 05/23/2003

I have never had a problem with remakes, especially if they are done well.  In the case of The In-Laws, it may have benefited from the fact that I have never seen the original version (as of this writing.)  To be honest, before this movie came out, I didnít realize the original version existed.

 

Jerry Peyser (Albert Brooks) is an old-fashioned guy with an ordinary job as a podiatrist.  When he isnít examining feet, he is planning the marriage of his daughter, Melissa (Lindsay Sloane), to her boyfriend Mark Tobias (Ryan Reynolds.)  Along with his wife Katherine (Maria Ricossa), is looking forward to the lavish ceremony, though she would rather have a simple wedding on the beach.  First up before the wedding is meeting Markís divorced parents, Steve (Michael Douglas) and Judy (Candice Bergen.)  He has missed several meetings with Steve, since Steveís job as a copier salesman keeps him really busy.  In reality, Steve is a deep-cover CIA agent who, along with partner Angela Harris (Robin Tunney), is trying to take down Jean-Pierre Thibodoux (David Suchet), an international smuggler whoís interested in a Russian sub named Olga.  He finally gets a chance to meet Steve, who insists on treating them to dinner at an Oriental restaurant, which he is doubling as a chance to set up a meeting for his ďotherĒ job.  While there, he excuses himself to go to the bathroom, which is really a chance to meet with Angela.  Jerry accidentally learns of Steveís real profession when he follows Steve to the bathroom and overhears what he thinks is Steve getting it on with a runaway named Olga in one of the stalls.  He instantly wants to call off the wedding, but before that happens, Steve fights off a gunman in front of Jerryís eyes and kidnaps Jerry to take him to France to explain his job while still on his mission (which is Steveís odd way of multi-tasking.)  This doesnít really sit well with Jerry, and he tries to get away by contacting FBI Agent Will Hutchins (Russell Andrews) on the phone.  Will tells Jerry that Steve is a rogue CIA agent with own agenda.  After they get to France, they meet Thibodoux, who is instantly attracted to Jerry, despite his claim that he is not gay.  After the meeting, they head back to the states, and Jerry tries in vain to avoid Steve, something that proves very hard to do.  When he realizes that their kids might be in danger, he decides to work with Steve to solve the problem and maybe even pull off a successful wedding without any problems at the same time.

 

When I heard the plotline of this movie, I thought it was going to be a spy version of Meet the Parents.  It is similar to that Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro movie, but concentrates more on the parents than the kids.  In fact, Reynolds and Sloane are two great young comedic actors who are horribly underused.  The movie is about the parents though, and Douglas and Brooks are great together.  Douglas is coming off the horrible It Runs in the Family with his dad Kirk, and Brooks hasnít made a good movie (in my opinion) since 1996ís Mother (which he also directed.)  They both needed this film.  This is actually Douglasís best comedy since 1995ís The American President (I know other critics liked his comedy Wonder Boys, but I wasnít one of them.)

 

One thing that surprised me about the movie was the amount of action it had in it.  I knew a movie about a spy would have some action, but I wasnít expecting as much as I saw in this film.  That makes the choice of Douglas as Steve all that much more inspired, since he has proven he is great in action comedies like Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile.

 

Only a couple of things bothered me.  Steve and Jerryís adventures may have been a little too over the top.  I guess if they hadnít, the movie would be boring, but it took away from the believability.  In addition, I would have liked to have seen more interaction between the parents and the kids.  It is revealed at one point that Mark picked up some of Steveís martial arts skills, but it would have been nice to see more of Reynolds in action.  Finally, there is a hot tub scene between Brooks and Suchet that is truly disturbing (letís just say it involves thong underwear.)

I donít know if the original film was as funny or action-packed as this one, but the 21st Century version of The In-Laws might surprise you.  The trailers for this film donít do it justice.  Most other critics will slam it, since they donít like outrageous comedies or remakes as a rule, but donít listen to them.  This is a fun movie to see in the theater, and I think I will track down the original version to compare it to this one.


 

Get the original 1979 version of the movie:

The In-Laws

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Get the soundtrack featuring new recordings of Paul McCartney classics, plus more:

The In-Laws

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