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The In-Laws   C-

Warner Bros. Pictures

Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Andrew Fleming
Writers: Nat Mauldin, Ed Solomon (based on the screenplay by Andrew Bergman)
Cast: Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks, Candice Bergen, Ryan Reynolds, Lindsay Sloane, Robin Tunney, David Suchet, Maria Ricossa.

Review by Sean O'Connell

Spies Like Us. Father of the Bride. The Odd Couple. The Spy Who Loved Me. Police Academy 3: Back in Training. Arthur Hiller's original 1979 version of The In-Laws.

Off the cuff, these are but a few of the movies Andrew Fleming's The In-Laws blatantly rips off as it desperately fishes for laughs. It's also a short list of the movies I recommend you rent instead of paying to see this haphazard jumble of wedding day jitters and simplistic spy games. Yes, even Police Academy 3.

The aforementioned jitters are provided by Jerry Peyser (Albert Brooks), a neurotic podiatrist and potential father of the bride who favors slogans like, "It doesn't hurt to worry." He has good reason to break a sweat. It's days before his daughter Melissa (Lindsay Sloane) is set to marry Mark Tobias (Ryan Reynolds), and while the cake has been ordered and the wedding band booked, Peyser has yet to meet Mark's dad.

Enter Steve Tobias (Michael Douglas), a smooth-talking, jet-setting copy machine salesman who actually makes his living as an undercover CIA agent. Tobias and his partner (Robin Tunney) are tailing a stolen Russian submarine. They need to retrieve the sub before a swishy French drug lord (David Suchet) uses the virtually undetectable craft to transport illegal narcotics. Unfortunately, Tobias can't shake his fatherly duties -- or his clingy in-law -- long enough to complete his mission.

The In-Laws puts a high-tech spin on pre-wedding anxieties. Appropriately, Douglas imagines Tobias to be slick as oil, so Brooks counters by playing Peyser as bland as water. Suffice it to say these two don't mix, though only Brooks gets laughs out of their odd coupling. He may be rehashing and amplifying his trademark neurotic persona, but he still squeezes some sizable jokes out if it. And if it ain't broke...

Speaking of broke, just about every other thing on display in The In-Laws is damaged beyond repair. The spy games are too far-fetched for their own good, even by slapstick comedy standards. Each of the two special effects sequences -- a sky-dive and a jet-ski chase -- look like they cost $50 total. Even Candice Bergen, playing Douglas' ex-wife, manages to strike a succession of wrong notes on her way to compiling a tasteless symphony of poor humor. By the time K.C. and the Sunshine Band appeared, I was exhausted trying to make sense of the whole thing. Then I realized that it just wasn't worth the effort.

Review published 05.22.2003.

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