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The In-Laws
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Reviews & Ratings for
The In-Laws More at IMDbPro »

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31 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

One of my all time favorite comedies!

Author: cwillis_m from OH.
19 June 2003

I'm a big Peter Falk fan, so I watched this movie because he was in it. I was in for quite a surprise. It has quickly become one of my favorite comedies of all. Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are a perfect pair. The great thing about this movie is that it seems to invent itself as it goes along. The movie isn't following any type of formula, it's making itself up as it goes along, or so it seems. Very funny. My rating: 10

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29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

One of the funniest films ever made

Author: mark ( from Commack, NY, USA
27 December 2000

This may be one the most underrated comedies ever made. This movie has made me laugh out loud each of the many times I have seen it. One of the things that makes it really special, however, is that this would be a good movie even if it never had a funny line. The reason is that it is simply a great story. The plot is full of twists and turns, and leaves you surprised at the end. This alone would make this movie a "7." Add the numerous laughs, and this movie becomes an undenible "10."

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29 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Screwball comedy is loaded with options

Author: Bill Slocum ( from Greenwich, CT United States
28 July 2003

Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are an absolutely killer combination in this over-the-top comedy. The writer who helped pen "Blazing Saddles," Andrew Bergman, is back in a solo effort this time that downplays the profanity and adult situations of that earlier classic for a family-friendly outing that loses none of its bite or wit.

For me, this film carries the same buttoned-down lunacy of a great Bob and Ray routine, only sustained for 90 minutes, with hardly a sagging line or note. Get through the first five minutes, a fairly routine armored car robbery and a protracted stairwell run, and you will not be sorry, because the rest of "The In-Laws" is so funny, it will take you three or four eager viewings before you appreciate just how brilliant beyond belief it is. At least that's what happened with me.

It's a strangely genial film, its approach personified in Peter Falk's "friend of the world" interpretation of Vince Ricardo. There's nothing that phases him, or is too minute to warrant some breezily cheery comment, like "Is this coffee freeze-dried? It's very good." Or "The benefits [for belonging to the CIA] are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That's the whole key to the benefits package."

Ricardo's approach is exemplified in an apron he is seen wearing at a barbeque: "I'm loaded with options." That he is, and screenwriter Bergman, too. In a somewhat desultory but still necessary DVD commentary for "In-Laws" fanatics like me, it is revealed by Bergman and director Arthur Hiller reveal the key moment for the screenplay is a fairly straight and jokeless scene between Alan Arkin's Dr. Kornpett and his daughter, where she urges him not to reject Ricardo because of his subliminated sexual jealousy about losing his daughter to Ricardo's son in marriage. Okay, maybe that does read funny, but it doesn't come across as funny.

The way the scene works, once the hapless dentist hears this, he is screwed. He has to help out Ricardo, in an inane flight from the government into the arms of the only Latin American dictator who's national flag features a topless woman, and whose apparent deputy is a Senor Wences hand puppet. You just follow along the same way Dr. Kornpett does, never knowing what to expect next, and, unlike him, enjoying it all the way through.

This film isn't laughs for everyone. Senator Jesus Braunsweiger's next-of-kin and BMW enthusiasts will find plenty to mourn. But for everyone else seeing it for the first time, it will be a joy forever, and a bit of a puzzlement: Why isn't this comedy better-known? Why don't people quote it as readily as "Caddyshack," "The Blues Brothers" or other lesser, contemporary fare?

One last thing: Alan Arkin's performance is maybe the best thing in the movie. I only realized this after repeat viewings. He's not the funniest comic actor around, frankly I never found his stuff that good in the other films of his I've seen, but here he makes the thing work. I wanted to say something about this containing the best straight-man work since Bud Abbott, but the more I see it, the less I'm sure who's the straight man. So many of the great lines are his: "There are flames on my car." "Flies with beaks?" "A Zee? A Zee?" "What flow? There isn't any flow." And to think his first line in the movie is a complaint about the viscosity of his dental bibs.

Just shut me up and go see it already. Or see it again. There's worse things you could do with your time, and not much better.

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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

great comedy team arkin and falk

Author: jackpurvin from hollywood, california
23 May 2003

peter faulk and alan arkin make a great comedy,team, because they counterbalance each other. With a great script and a very funny adjoining cast of characters, arkin and falk takes us to a various locales and absurd locations to show a great talent of comedic timing between the two of them one being a dentist and the other, a character of enigmatic qualities. Have to see this one.

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

One of the funniest films ever made.

Author: longislandjoe from United States
29 May 2006

This movie is absolutely hysterical. And I do not mean very funny. I mean it is hysterical.

The plot is that a CIA operative and a dentist, played superbly and respectively by Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, are about to become in-laws because their two children are to be married. But Falk, about to retire from his clandestine duties, needs Arkin's help to pull off one final mission. From beginning to end the antics of these two will leave you in side-splitting humor. And the performance by Richard Libertini as a South American dictator is equal to Falk and Arkin's contribution to this classic comedy.

If you want to see an intelligent and realistic film that is extremely funny from start to finish then this is it. Don't miss it!

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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A classic of American comedy.

Author: Jamie Meyer
30 June 2004

This is truly one of the most under-appreciated comedies of all time. Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are magnificent. It was shamed by the abhorrent re-make/re-visit of 2003. Don't judge this original by that pathetic after birth. Two scenes stand out as 'need to see.' The first meeting between Falk and Arkin and the subsequent dinner has many a classic line, 'Beaks? The flies had beaks?' and 'There's tremendous red-tape in the bush.' The landing in Tihara and the car chase that follows including the famous 'Serpentine!' sequence makes me laugh out loud with every viewing. 'They make a chicken sandwich. They heat it up, serve it on a hard roll, with orange juice or pineapple juice, y'know grande, a big one. And coffee. Espresso with that wonderful foam. Oh Jesus Pigs!'

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, treat yourself to this classic. If you like Monty Python, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and the like, you will absolutely enjoy The In Laws.

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Agua fria, agua fria!!

Author: ejr-4 from New York
11 June 2003

Watched it again this weekend and laughed as hard - no, harder - than the previous 20 viewings! What is it about this movie? It gets FUNNIER every time. Oh sure, everyone comments here about the biggest laugh: Serpentine! Arguably one of the funniest in film history. But there are SO MANY great lines and moments: "There's no reason to shoot at me, I'm a dentist!" "Left turn at The General Garcia Toll's a fitting tribute general...yes, much better than a statue." "We have no blindfolds senor, we are a poor country." Vince: "from here on in it's very cut and dry." Shelley: "it's not cut. it's not dry." How about Shelley's expression as the general pours cold water into his own hand to calm down his agitated friend? And the airline safety instructions delivered by Billy (or is it Bing?) in Chinese. IT JUST GOES ON AND ON! Tell everyone you know, don't go see the remake - rent the original!

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

delightfully farcical romp!

Author: Robert D. Ruplenas
30 June 1999

This truly hilarious comedy is one of the funniest movies of the period. No one does the sort of deadpan face that says "I can't believe what I'm hearing and seeing" like Alan Arkin. Peter Falk's comic abilities match his skill in heavier roles. The interplay between them is marvelous, matching that of Lemmon & Matthau (one wishes they had made more films together). Many side-splitting moments, and some superbly comic dialogue. Not to be missed.

Serpentine, Shel, serpentine!!!

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Director Arthur Hiller presses all the right buttons with this one

Author: Martin Gordon from Adelaide
7 January 1999

I've just seen this film for the third time - the first was in 1979 when it was in the cinemas, the second was in 1989, and last night - 1999. And each time I've loved it. Somehow it catches just the right note early on, and manages to maintain it right thru the film.

I think the character of Vince (Peter Falk) is the key. At the start of the film we are convinced that he is a loud-mouthed schmuck with criminal tendencies, embarrassing and unpleasant to be around. This image slowly begins to crack, and although his behavior doesn't change one iota from start to finish, our perception of him does. So much so that by the close of the film we come to see him as a man of heroic qualities, gracious, and modest to boot. It's a very clever transformation and it's achieved via a plot that spirals hilariously out of control at dazzling speeds.

And of course the other joy of the film is the unlikely relationship which develops under fire between the zany CIA operative Falk and Alan Arkin as the dull but respectable dentist.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Three Cheers For the Guacamole Act of 1917!!!

Author: theowinthrop from United States
13 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The premise of this film is really simple: if two families are about to enjoy the union of their children in a marriage, is it not likely that the in-laws involved can come to depend and help each other out in times of need? Most of us would probably say no, or want to know the extent of the help. However, when Vincent J. Ricardo (Peter Falk) asks Dr. Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin) to assist him in retrieving something from a safe in Ricardo's office, Kornpett is willing (if somewhat suspiciously) to do it.

The reason that Kornpett is suspicious is he is not quite certain what to make of Ricardo. They only met at Kornpett's house the night before, for a dinner party introducing the families of the bride (Kornpett's) and groom (Ricardo's) to each other. Ricardo acted...well oddly. He told tales of his business travels in Central America, including how in one country babies are being carried off by huge bats that are protected by the Guacamole Act of 1917. Kornpett hears this with a blank face, although his eyes do bug out a little in disbelief. Later, when Ricardo gets testy with his son over a comment about the former not being home enough, Kornpett can't believe the near rage that Ricardo demonstrates at the table. So his suspicions about his future in-law seem well based.

Shortly, after being chased and nearly killed by two men who are after the items that Kornpett picked up, the suspicions seem confirmed. Ricardo explains to him, over pea soup in a restaurant, that he actually is not a successful salesman but a C.I.A. operative (a photo in Ricardo's office confirms this: it is of President Kennedy, and the autograph refers to the Bay of Pigs Invasion). He is in the middle of a critically important mission in Latin America dealing with international finance and a conspiracy against the richest nations. Kornpett hears him out, and is upset to hear that there is more material that Ricardo hid in Kornpett's home the night before. He wants no part of it, and leaves to go home - only to find the police there. He flees, and does evade capture - at the cost of having his car repainted in a way he never would have wanted it to look.

Soon Kornpett is forced to join forces with Ricardo, and enters the deadly serious but (here) quite farcical world of international espionage and intrigue. At the end of the road is the ringleader of the conspiracy, General Garcia (Richard Libertini) who has a special little friend that makes Al Pacino's little friend in SCARFACE lethal but sensible in comparison.

THE IN-LAWS is funny. Arkin with his tight-ass repressive personality works well against the free-wheeling, anything goes Falk. Libertini appears only in the films last twenty minutes, but he does equally nicely as the ultimate in screw-ball dictators. Well supported by a cast including Nancy Dussault, Arlene Golonka, Penny Peyser, Michael Lembeck, and Ed Begley Jr. the film is just a laugh fest until the happy ending. As mentioned elsewhere in these comments Arkin and Falk should have made several films together. They have only done one other movie together since THE IN-LAWS. Pity.

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