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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!
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 Bridge...it'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!
This truly hilarious comedy is one of the funniest movies of the period.
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
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
Serpentine, Shel, serpentine!!!
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.
*** 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.
I've seen this movie and I think it's great! The previews have been stuck in my head for ages. Since the age of 5, I would try to picture the streets of New York in the back of my mind. And I picture the streets very well. This movie is a lot of fun, I liked the banana scene, I also loved the all the other scenes as well. The escape scene where the hapless dentist got the engraving plates from the office. And I liked the part where Peter Falk's character shoots Paul L. Smith in the arm. At least he lives. Though Falk's character hasn't been home for a while, he got a chance to see "The Price is Right" , it's one of my favorite game show of all times. Thae cute scene in the movie was the hand puppet of the leader of the country the duo were in. There is more I could say about the movie is when the two feuding in-laws got to the wedding on time in a seated parachute, and what more could you want from a movie like that. Be part of the family in which the in-law feeds on danger. The In-Laws is a true classic to the collector. 10+!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have not seen the remake, and refuse to. I don't think that the remake could quite capture the magic that Peter Falk and Alan Arkin provide. This movie is a political satire. It spoofs the whole spy business and Latin American dictators. Falk carries the film as a seemingly weird CIA agent. Arkin is a neurotic dentist unwittingly placed in the spy game by his seemingly crazy in-law. The movie has plenty of laughs, and can be seen repeated with the laughs still being funny. The plot is a bit winding and confusing, but it is a comedy after all. Basically, the movie is carried by two great personalities -Falk and Arkin.
This film began the series, continued when Danny DiVito says "Ooops.
Cows." The homage of "Oops. Some creature", always makes me laugh. The
interjection into a chase scene of two frames of a pig, or a cow or
whatever, which began in The "In-Laws", even makes "No Soap. Radio"
amusing, but only in relation. Yes, yes, yes, the funnest American film
of the last fifty years, bar none. Some are as funny as, but none are
funnier. And the Godless creatures who did the re-make should be
ashamed for the rest of their lives. After the original nothing else
will ever be quite as good. But the remake was just AWFUL! I still
pause and re-wind on ""Ooops. Pigs." I would rather have dental work
than watch the remake.
I do not want to be too harsh because perhaps when this movie was filmed some scenes that are too familiar in today's American movies were somehow original, but even so I believe that by 1979 it was quite common to see American movies with cars chasing each other and so on. But leaving that aside, it is quite difficult to swallow that an educated dentist would accept leaving his office in the middle of an intervention to make a favour to a guy that he hardly knew. And this is how all begins. So, the script has an original sin... Nevertheless, there are some good gags and a very good performance by Alan Arkin. And of course, the usual display of utter ignorance of Americans about the culture of the other American countries. For instance to make the Hondureans speak Spanish as if they were Mexicans.
This was an outstanding comedy when released nearly 30 years ago. Seen
again now, it is just as enjoyable, and with the added feature of being
a period piece of its times.
Although exaggerated for humor, the small dictatorship where much of the film occurs was much more like the banana republics, which were more a part of Central America and the Caribbean during this era, than one might assume today.
Falk and Arkin were absolutely outstanding as a comedy duo, and one wishes that perhaps they had been coupled in other work as well.
Unlike most other films - even among the best - this picture had no slow or dull parts. The entire period on-screen was a continually interesting and humorous presentation.
I liked the "re-make" of this film better than most seemed to, perhaps because of liking Michael Douglas' and Albert Brooks' work so much. But it was re-made in name only, and like most fell short of its predecessor (Martin and Hawn in "The Out-of-Towners" is an even better example).
Catch this film when possible, not only for its humor, per se, but as a fine piece of nostalgia.
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