Making the Grades
The In-Laws may well be what Michael Douglas was attempting to achieve in his recent film It Runs in the Family. While both storylines include less than perfect parents trying to make things right with their children, The In-Laws focuses less on drama and offers instead a humorous look at the perils of combining two families in the holy bonds of matrimony.
Only days away from their marriage ceremony, Mark Tobias (Ryan Reynolds) and his fianc0xE9e Melissa (Lindsay Sloan) have yet to introduce his dad to her parents. Although the effort has been made countless times, Steve Tobias (Michael Douglas) is about as unpredictable as weather due to business commitments. Showing up suddenly and then disappearing without warning, he is constantly changing their plans. It's a lifestyle that has already cost him his marriage to Judy (Candice Bergen) and strained his father/son relationship with Mark. Melissa's father, Jerry (Albert Brooks), on the other hand is an orderly and meticulous podiatrist whose rather bland life is scheduled to run in a neat little circuit.
Finally, at Steve's suggestion, the betrothed couple and proposed in-laws all meet for dinner in a seedy part of town where the illusive businessman seems to know everyone. Already pushed outside his comfort zone by the food and unsavory atmosphere, Jerry starts to question the suitability of his daughter's future father-in-law when he overhears Steve engaged in a sexually suggestive conversation. His suspicions are confirmed when he stumbles into a scuffle during a visit to the men's bathroom.
Shortly however, the timid foot doctor, outfitted with his fanny pack, discovers his ability to deal with uncertainty when Steve reveals he is an undercover CIA agent. Dragging Jerry into an explosive and highly secretive smuggling operation, Steve introduces the mild-mannered medic to a world full of intrigue, suspense and a notorious, international villain, Jean-Pierre Thibodoux (David Suchet). With bullets flying and stakes rising, Jerry gets a firsthand look at the wilder side of life.
Remade from a 1970s film, the apprehensions about future family connections and overblown reception arrangements provide plenty to laugh at in this well-paced and engaging script. Unfortunately, The In-Laws also embraces content issues that will cause many parents concern. Graphic shootings and thug violence are paired with suggestive sexual comments, tiny bikinis, a homosexual kiss and recurring profanities. Alcohol, served at parties and at home, results in at least one drunk character and references are made to illegal drugs.
Despite all the glitz and glamour of this couple's big day, this is one bridal party families may be cautious about attending.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The In-Laws.
Comedies sometimes include content that appears to be too oppressive for the mood of the movie. Did this film include some of these scenes? How does a writer pace a script to engage the various emotions of the audience?
How difficult would it be for a highly trained spy to maintain a normal kind of life with a spouse and family? What other kinds of occupations are difficult on family relationships?