The In-Laws

The original The In-Laws came out in 1979 and starred Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. A little more than three decades later comes the remake, starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks, playing exaggerated versions of personas they tend to gravitate towards on screen. Douglas (It Runs in the Family, Don't Say a Word) is Steve Tobias, a slick CIA Agent trying to track down a weapon that could place the US in grave danger. Brooks (My First Mister, The Muse) is Jerry Peyser, a nervous, neurotic podiatrist with a penchant for whining and complaining. This is easy territory for both actors, who can play these roles in their sleep. However, for a movie to succeed, it needs to do more than throw to opposites at each other.

The In-Laws does not work because of a dull script. As adapted by Nat Mauldin (Doctor Dolittle, The Preacher's Wife) and Ed Solomon (Levity, Charlie's Angels), it updates the story and adds some modern touches a la special effects, but there really is no point for this remake. It feels stale upon arrival because the situations, set-ups, and jokes are so familiar. The gimmick that gets Tobias and Peyser together is the upcoming wedding of their children, Mark Tobias (Ryan Reynolds, Van Wilder, Dick) and Melissa Peyser (Lindsay Sloane, Bring It On, Seven Girlfriends). Jerry accidentally stumbles into a sensitive operation by workaholic Steve, who enlists an unwilling Jerry to help him. Steve's assistant Angela (Robin Tunney, Cherish, Vertical Limit). This is their first meeting, which goes horribly, and convinces Jerry that he wants no part in a family with Steve and tries calling off the wedding.

One thing leads to another, and soon this odd couple jets off to Europe to try to find the secret weapon. The FBI contacts Jerry and tells them that Steve is rogue, which makes Jerry even more neurotic. Director Andrew Fleming (Dick, The Craft) proceeds to spend most of the film throwing Jerry into situation after situation where all of his quirks and odd habits (among other things, he wears a fanny pack) would work against him, yet still he manages to survive, and even more incredibly, manages to help Steve. The issue here is that none of the various set-ups are that funny. There are some amusing moments, but not enough to last a whole movie. If people think that Brooks in a red speedo is funny, then this is the movie for them.

As mundane as this spy subplot is, it is far more enjoyable then the actual wedding story. See, Steve is loose, and Jerry is uptight, and both will eventually influence the other. The other wedding participants are like blanks. Mark knows about his dad's shenanigans and is trying to hide it, and Melissa smiles a lot. Steve's ex-wife Judy (Candice Bergen, View from the Top, Sweet Home Alabama) is a shrill, bitter ex-wife. Just as Douglas and Brooks are on autopilot, Bergen seems to be gravitating towards this role. The difference is that it is extremely grating. Brooks and Douglas are good, but their material doesn't help them out at all. At least Douglas looks like he's having fun.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated PG-13 for suggestive humor, language, some drug references, and action violence.

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