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As Mark (Ryan Reynolds), the son of deep cover CIA operative Steve Tobias (Michael Douglas) prepares to marry Melissa Peyser (Lindsay Sloane), the Peyser family is dragged into the unpredictable life of a secret agent. Melissa’s pedantic and conservative podiatrist father (Albert Brooks) is flung into a series of adventures as Steve’s unwilling sidekick, in pursuit of Jean-Pierre Thibodoux (David Suchet) a bizarre major international criminal, who is about to buy an old Russian nuclear submarine as a secret transporter of illegal goods. The wedding plans are thus disrupted, as can be expected from the ever-absent father, Steve, who was divorced by his wife (Candice Bergen) years ago. The two fathers make a hapless team as the wedding and the big undercover deal approach, each with its own time-bomb ticking beneath the surface.

Review by Louise Keller:
I feel a bit guilty to have dismissed the remake of The In-Laws so totally when it released theatrically. Because the original 1979 film starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin is one of my favourite comedies, with a script and cast that is nothing short of brilliant, I found the remake to be very disappointing. 

Watching it again on DVD, I found myself to be a little more forgiving, although director Andrew Fleming has totally misjudged the tone. The characters are not grounded in reality, which means we don’t believe any of it. The premise remains inviting – odd couple pairing as in-laws, and there are some mildly amusing moments. 

Michael Douglas looks as though he’s enjoying himself at times, but his character is just a little too casual, too flip, because we don’t really believe that he is such an eccentric (The role needs someone who is on the edge of insanity. Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon character comes to mind.) Also, I didn’t warm to Albert Brooks’ podiatrist who gets an anxiety attack watching an airline commerical; he simply irritated me and I wished he would stop whining. Robin Tunney is badly miscast, but I did enjoy Ryan Reynolds’ accepting son and David Suchet as the foot-sore, angst-ridden homophobic but gay crime lord Jean-Pierre is divine. 

There are a few chuckles and the scene in which Jean-Pierre invites Jerry into the hot tub, wearing nought but a tiny red dental floss swimsuit (believing him to be drug chief Fat Cobra) is rather fun. Oh yes, and I giggled when the FBI searches Steve’s house and tells his wife ‘The place is clean’, to which she replies ‘thank you.’ But frankly, there’s little to recommend this very disappointing film. The humour seems more and more forced as it goes along, and by the time the 95 minutes is over, it’s almost a relief. 

The DVD package, with its gag reel, parachute sequence (shot on bluescreen), multiple takes with Albert Brooks in the airplane bathroom and car ride, three additional scenes and audio commentary give a greater insight, but never deliver the laughs of the original. 

Published January 8, 2004

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(US, 2003)

CAST: Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks, Ryan Reynolds, Lindsay Sloane, Maria Ricossa, Robin Tunney, David Suchet and Candice Bergen

DIRECTOR: Andrew Fleming

SCRIPT: Nat Mauldin, Ed Solomon (based on the original by Andrew Bergman)

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen 2.35:1; English subtitles for the hearing impaired; dolby 2.0; dolby digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Director’s Commentary; Gag Reel: The Parachute Sequence; Additional Scenes; Multiple takes with Albert Brooks; cast and crew bios; theatrical trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: January 7, 2004

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