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The In-Laws (2003)

The cake is going to hit the fan

Directed by:

Andrew Fleming

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 95 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

Country: United States

By far the most impressive thing about 'The In-Laws' is wrinkly old Michael Douglas showing that a stair-lift isn't the only high-tech piece of equipment he's able to use convincingly. Here, you can see him speeding along on a jet ski, piloting a private jet, out-driving the Feds and parachuting off the top of a sky-scraper. And all before nap time.

Unfortunately, if that makes this bland summer comedy sound like a rip-roaring action-packed pearler, then you'll have to forgive me – because it's not. It's actually a not-very-funny remake of the 1979 Arthur Hiller comedy of the same name, which starred Peter Falk and Alan Arkin as two very different dads flung together when their kids start making plans to get hitched. Falk played a rogue CIA agent up to his glass peeper in espionage, with Arkin the fish-out-of-water forced to tag along.

This time, Douglas is the turn-coat spy and Albert Brooks plays the sweaty-palmed podiatrist who gets tangled up in his world of concealed weapons, Russian submarines and nuclear thingmy-bobs. Back at home, Lindsay Sloane and Ryan Reynolds play the miffed offspring hoping to catch their respective dads' attentions for just long enough to make a success of their wedding. Fat chance.

Unfortunately, the whole thing reeks of unoriginality and makes use of an extremely tired and predictable line of humour. Even at the best of times Douglas has little obvious flair for comedy, never mind occasions such as this where he's handed such mediocre material to work with. Pick of the characters is David Suchet as a mincing murderous Frenchman, but even he struggles to make good of Andrew Bergman and Nat Mauldin's lazy script.

It's Got: Tired humour and a Swiss Cheese plot.

It Needs: Much, much sharper wit and better comedy chemistry between the main players.

Alternatives:

Meet the Parents, The Birdcage, The In-Laws (1979 version), The Odd Couple, True Lies

Summary

Not a hugely dislikeable comedy, but not a particularly funny one either. Try watching the 1979 version instead – at least it's original.

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