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The In-Laws (2003)
He's not losing his daughter. He's gaining a madman.

Right before his daughter's wedding, a mild-mannered foot doctor discovers that his new in-laws are international smugglers.

The In-Laws (2003)

Hidden Agent

Albert Brooks breaks my heart. Every time I encounter him I see near greatness. All he has to do is decide.

But there must be some price he is unwilling to pay, because every outing (acting, directing, writing) there is a palpable holding back, an imposed meekness that imperfectly hides his light. This is the guy who brought comic irony as hidden loathing of the media to the masses in TeeVeeland through Saturday Night Live. SNL has been coasting on his juice since.

This is the guy who failed in writing/directing/acting in film after film that in hindsight now seem little gems of innovative, understated comic placement. This is the guy who turned the prolific James Brooks (no relation) from a gag writer into someone who understands narrative distance and the humour behind joking on how you tell a joke.

This is Hollywood’s most famous script doctor for comedies, the guy that has saved more turkeys than you can count. He almost singlehandedly balances the Kevin Smith/ Affleck/Damon crowd plus Whoopie plus Harrison Ford (when he tries to be funny). He is, in fact, a secret agent.

He keeps his secret here, fading into the background as Douglas mugs, and Bergman’s 25 year old situation putters along with mechanical madcappery.

This could have been saved if he were turned loose, if he were allowed to do what Gene Wilder did for ‘The Producers.’ Even the extent of what he did in ‘Broadcast News’ would have worked, but that was more up his make-fun-of-what-you-use alley.

Or if Robin Tunney had been someone else, someone with the comic timing of the ironic not-doubletake, someone like Parker Posey. She’s dyed a dark red here to get her into the mood, but the director seems to not have gotten the joke. He should go back and watch ‘the Freshman’ to see how this works: its not supposed to be funny directly, its funny because it is not funny in a funny way, a way that is self-aware and self-mocking.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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