The Thing About My Folks

A lot of people complain that movies skew towards young males. Well, The Thing About My Folks is the movie for them. It's a character-driven comedy written focusing on the relationship between a man and his aging father. Reiser is best known for his long run on Mad About You, and here he plays a similar character in a movie that feels very much like a television show. A father and son bond over a minor tragedy in the father's life. Sam Kleinman's (Peter Falk, Shark Tale, Undisputed) longtime wife left him, and his son Ben (Reiser, The Aristocrats, One Night at McCool's) is tending to him emotionally. It's a role-reversal that unnerves both of them, but Reiser, who wrote the screenplay, will somehow manage to have his characters get over it and grow closer.

It sounds very deep, but The Thing About My Folks shies away from any real emotion. This is one of those movies best described as "nice," which may not be a great thing. It's not a bad movie, but Reiser and director Raymond De Felitta (Two Family House, Cafe Society) blunt any real emotions by trying too hard to play with people's emotions. Many of the plot points and lines feel very contrived, and a running joke about Ben's gas problems is really dumb. Sam appears unexpectedly one night, letting Sam and his wife Rachel (Elizabeth Perkins, Must Love Dogs, The Ring Two) know that his wife left. Nobody knows what to do, and they agree that Sam should stay with them as they try to discover where Sam's wife went.

Reiser plays the usual character he always does. He is slightly neurotic, speaks extremely quickly, gesticulates wildly, and can get a bit annoying. Falk looks like he's having a bit more fun. He has a very natural way of acting, and it makes everything look so easy. Sam's marriage lasted for over forty years, and his wife's sudden and unexpected departure (all she left was a note) leaves a gaping emotional hole in his life. He needs to rely on Ben, not knowing that his presence is driving Ben crazy. There's lots of arguing that builds to a slow reconciliation and lots of weepy moments that ring a bit hollow. They go fishing, go to a bar and a baseball game, look for a house, have a fancy dinner, and bicker the entire time.

The Thing About My Folks has very earnest aspirations, but at no time does anybody watching feel any real connection with the characters. It's always "look, there's Paul Reiser and Peter Falk" rather than "hey, it's a father and son." As the movie nears its conclusion, the emotions become extremely cloying, to the point where it's almost unbearable to have to watch them. Still, Falk emerges unscathed, and Reiser, well, is Reiser. People who like him will like the movie, and people that find his delivery annoying will not.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated PG-13 for language, including some suggestive references.

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