Mel Coplin departs on a mission of discovery dragging his wife and 4 month old son behind. He and wife, Nancy, won't agree on a name for their son until adopted Mel gets in touch with his roots. He assures her that once he knows who he really is, the right name for their boy will be a snap. Enlisting the aid of student-psychologist and part-time adoption agent, Tina Kalb, they embark on a journey across the United States to find Mel's "birth" mother. "The best part," Mel tells Nancy, "is it's all free." Tina is finishing her dissertation and will film the happy reunion of mother and child as part of her research. For this privilege, she's footing the bill. His adoptive parents are left behind feeling abandoned by an ungrateful son. Clerical errors, mistaken identities, Nancy's misplaced high school friend and his gay lover, and a super-charged libido here and there are thrown into the mix along the way until -- at last -- Mel's real parents, the Schlictings (mispronounced as "... Written by
MARK FLEETWOOD <email@example.com>
Ben Stiller and Téa Leoni would collaborate once again 15 years later, in the film Tower Heist (2011). See more »
After Mel has crashed the truck and is at the police station, Paul and his partner leave the questioning room. When they re-enter the questioning room, Paul opens the door with his left hand. In the next shot, he is entering with a clipboard in his left hand. See more »
A man stumbles and bumbles his way to his zany biological parents...screwball almost!
Flirting with Disaster (1996)
This is one of those movies that's just plain stupid in such a funny way you'll likely laugh out loud a lot. And you'll finish thinking it's a pretty stupid movie. The ending in particular makes you wonder what all the build up was about since it diffuses, as if the writers ran out of conflicts (or solutions) and raised their hands in surrender.
But on the way there is one funny gag after another. And a whole slew of excellent actors doing their zany best. Some of them have very brief (and contained) appearances, for sure--Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda, for example, in a hilarious section of the movie with little connection to the rest of it. In fact, the whole movie is broken into spasmodic sections, held together mostly by the three leading leads (there are lots of main characters): Ben Stiller (looking for his biological parents), Patricia Arquette (his suffering, sweet wife), and Tea Leoni (the mentally incomplete but skinny and sexy interloper).
Stiller isn't actually totally funny by himself, but acts like more of a foil for all the crazy things happening around him (this is his style on purpose, a kind of regular guy in an irregular world). Arquette is almost too normal for this abnormal world, but that's fine, she's likable, and is meant to be the loving wife who doesn't quite know how zany the events around her are. At first. Leoni has a terrific way of making nutty faces and being just slightly insane without being just stupid (the way Will Ferrell is just stupid in a different kind of humor).
There are gay jokes and jokes about LSD and a general playing of an ultra-licentious world against what seems to be a normal human desire to connect with your genetic parents, unknown to you. The mistakes along the way are what make it hilarious. Until the end, where it maybe is trying to say, "Oh well, everything is okay in a world where anything goes." Sure. Pop the big bubble, but on the way it's a gas. No pun intended.
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