Movies on the Brain: In-Laws

(Originally published on FilmThreat.com)

First off, I think Albert Brooks is hilarious. The only problem I had with Finding Nemo (aside from thinking it was too scary for my 2 ½ year old) was that I couldn’t see Brooks face as he was delivering his lines. Defending Your Life is one of my favorite flicks. I also do like Michael Douglas and thought Ryan Reynolds was the best thing about “2 Guys, A Girl, A Pizza Place, the Diner Down the Street and a Trash Can Which No One Claims to Know Anything About”. He was also very good in Van Wilder.

00:00 – OK, I apparently accidentally rented Crimson Tide. Not necessarily a bad thing, I just thought I wasn’t going to watch Gene Hackman mop the floor with every other actor around him.

00:03 – Are jokes about Celine Dion even funny anymore? Now that she’s in Las Vegas full-time I think she’s pretty much resigned herself to the level of Hell she was destined for. Apparently she’s comfortable there with her badly stretched face and hair which is just disconcerting to look at, so more power to her.

00:03 – “Live and Let Die” by Wings is playing. Do movie producers not understand that by invoking other movies from the same genre you are simply inviting comparisons to theirs? I don’t think so. I enjoy picturing the meetings of people who think Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond. Admitting to your secret neo-Nazi political leanings would probably incite less passionate feelings.

00:06 – Sorry, no one delivers lines like Albert Brooks. How he can say something so innocent and still sound put upon is beyond me.

00:08 – God I’m glad I’m married and don’t have to go through a wedding again. The planning process is like being on a roller coaster and not in the fun “Well at least I might throw up and have an amusing anecdote about the experience” way.

00:11 – Thank goodness. I was afraid they were going to enter a Vietnamese restaurant and NOT make a dog-as-main-course joke.

00:14 – Everyone always says “Well when am I going to need Algebra later in life” but no one ever says “Well when am I going to need to know all the points on a color wheel later in life”.

00:15 – I am the king of trying too hard in awkward social situations. At some point in embarrassing myself in front of people, farting on the buffet table actually might get me back in the good graces of some of the people in the room.

00:20 – Disconcerting to see Van Wilder as the comedic straight man. Keep expecting him to try and jerk-off a dog with huge tentacles. Wow. Can’t believe that’s the image that stayed with me from that movie. Should probably see someone about that.

00:23 – Does Michael Douglas know what movie he’s in or did he just kind of show up and get handed his lines?

00:23 – Imagine if Blues Brothers was made today. They would drive, after leading the entire Illinois State Police force on a chase, up to a bland, non-descript “City Hall” because the movie was shot in Toronto, not Chicago because it’s too expensive. By the way, Blues Brothers 2000 never happened. Thinking this is the only way I get through most days.

00:24 – The parking meter Police car in which they are going 45 miles per hour (which I am completely letting blow by me for the sake of my own sanity) sometimes has three wheels and sometimes four. You’d think this would be the kind of decision they would iron out in pre-production.

00:26 – Am I the only person who likes Empire Records? “Damn the man! Save the Empire!”

00:30 – Uh-oh! No pilots in the airplane. Albert Brooks better wake up Dr. Jones and Short Round. Hope there’s a life raft on board.

00:32 – I have yet to meet anyone who will cop to wearing days-of-the-week underwear. I didn’t date enough before I got married.

00:32 – Do 20-something year-old girls in 2003 really get this excited by Barbra Streisand? If so, is this something they can get counseling for?

00:35 – Yes, we’re in France. Definitely not a location in California. It’s France.

00:37 – Sixth fanny pack joke. Why not just make an announcement at the beginning of the film that the fanny pack will save the day in some way in the last 15 minutes of the movie.

00:38 – An effeminate Frenchman? Noooooooooooo. What’s next, an overly flamboyant homosexual? A strict and unyielding German?

00:39 – I live in a world where Deepak Chopra is on CNN. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

00:40 – Dear Mr. Douglas – Doing broad comedy opposite a subtle actor like Albert Brooks is destined to make you look like you’re trying way too hard and are not in fact a funny person. Except in A Perfect Murder. That was hilarious. Sincerely, Chris.

00:41 – Why do people keep putting an electric thermometer in some sort of stainless steel specimen jar? Is there a tiny little person in there with a temperature? Should they get a thimble of chicken soup? If there is a little person in there, can they just take him to the Taffy-Pulling Room and make him big again?

00:47 – Albert Brooks keeps saying “wet bone” and I’m thinking “he didn’t get paid enough for this movie”.

00:51 – What are the requirements for a hairstyle to get separate billing? There should be a union for this kind of thing.

00:53 – How have I lived in the Chicago area all my life and not known there was a Signature Room at the Hancock Building? Imagine all the jokes I’ve missed out on. These are the regrets I have in life.

00:57 – Michael Douglas is starting to look dazed, like the movie is catching up with him.

1:00 – I have this image in my mind of Cobra Commander aged 85, sitting outside his modest suburban home and falling asleep on his porch. As he’s sleeping the neighborhood kids sneak up and peek under his mask until an elderly Tomax and Xamot chase them off.

TOMAX: Hey you kids….

XAMOT: …get off our lawn.

1:01 – “So, you’re great people to work with, this is a great present, and I wish I could squeeze you all into one pretty woman. And if you’d like to go to my office, I’ll try.” Once again, Defending Your Life is a great movie.

1:02 – Based on the perspective of the camera right now, the Hancock Building is taller than the Sears Tower, which is something I did not know.

1:06 – I’d like to know who it was that first said to someone else, “You know this block of ice which is going to melt in a couple of hours? Well I’d like to take a chainsaw and variously sized picks to it and make it look like a swan. I think that would be cool”.

1:09 – I work in downtown Chicago about a half mile from Lake Michigan. Have for five years. Yet it wasn’t until this past summer that I said to myself, “I should go walk along the lakefront at lunch time”. I ignore the fact that there’s a friggin’ lake within sight of my office everyday and I wonder why people sometimes mistake me for the village idiot.

1:11 – The inclusion of a female rabbi in the movie leads me to believe Barbra Streisand was involved in this movie in some way shape or form. Is it OK that I think Prince of Tides is a good movie? No? Then please forget I brought it up.

1:18 – Part of me is ashamed to admit I’m actually liking this movie. This is similar to the problem I have watching It’s A Wonderful Life. I’m very comfortable in the first 9/10ths of the movie thinking it’s hokey, sentimental claptrap and then I get all choked up when Harry Bailey says, “To my brother George. The richest man in town”. Gets me every damn time. On a side note, I can’t walk past a piano without wanting to sit down, turn to the imaginary camera and say “This is for my brother George”. Keep in mind this is an homage to Bugs Bunny NOT Liberace. I repeat, NOT Liberace.

1:20 – “Mass genocide is the most exhausting activity one can engage in, next to soccer.”

1:22 – And the fanny pack set up (all six of them) finally pays off.

All right, I liked this movie. Ryan Reynolds should get more work. As should Albert Brooks. As should Candace Bergin. Amazing how talented actors such as these constantly get passed over. It could have used a little better script, but these folks through everything in their respective arsenals at it and made it work in spots. My overall feeling is that they caught between making a lightweight comedy and a high-concept madcap romp. This is similar to being in the Demilitarized Zone. You haven’t committed to either side so you wind up getting your ass shot off for nothing.

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