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This is one of the few movies I find seriously funny. Stiller, Leoni, Moore, everyone does a killer job, and humor emerges from a variety of silly-crazy and intellectual sources, so you can respect yourself when you laugh. Human neuroses give rise to a lot of sympathetic laughter. Most of it is human frailty and absurdity. Tea Leoni is hilarious, and does a great job of getting on your nerves, and trying to get into Stiller's pants behind his wife's back while still being completely neurotic and self-absorbed. Her psycho-babble is highly effective. Stiller plays the usual awkward introspective man who lacks self confidence. His parents are magnificent, and so are his 'real' parents. I loved it. highly recommended. What else are you going to watch?
I first saw this film at the Theatres in 1996. I didn't know much about Ben Stiller at the time but liked Patricia Arqette. I didn't know what I was in for. I laughed my arse off. I was rolling in the isles. Maybe no expectations is a good way to go into a film because being pleasantly surprised is one of my favorite emotions. Ben Stiller is hillarious here as well as everyone in the cast. Great writing and Direction, a full laugh out loud riot. If you like Ben Stiller playing that innocent guy in the wrong situation "his best part" you will like this one. I highly recomend.
This movie is truly a masterpiece. The plot, the acting, the
It is about Mel Coplin (Stiller) who is puzzled who he really is a couple months after his baby is born. He becomes addicted to the fact that he indeed doesn't know who he is. Finally, he receives information of where his birth mother is. He gets on a plane with his wife, Nancy (Patricia Arquette), and the adoption agency associate that he is working with, Tina (Téa Leoni). Together they all fly to San Diego only to discover that there has been some terrible mistake--this woman in San Diego is not his birth mother.
Well, I won't ruin the rest of this hilarious and ongoing plot for you. I guarantee that you will laugh sometime in this movie...whether it is at the little old lady in the bed and breakfast, or when Tina maces the church workman in San Diego.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the most intriguing thoughts about anyone that has been adopted,
and knowing about it, is trying to imagine what the real parents are
like. Since much of the search will not happen until the adopted
children reach a certain age nothing prepare them to accept the reality
of how they came into this world and what motivated those parents to
give them up in the first place.
Such is the dilemma that Mel Coplin faces. He has been adopted by a Jewish couple, Ed and Pearl, who have done well in bringing him up; Mel is a well adjusted man. After his own son is born, he decides to track down his natural parents. With the help of a young woman of the adoption agency, Tina, he and his wife, Nancy, embark in a trip to find the parents he never knew.
What seemed to be an easy task, Mel who is traveling with Nancy and the baby, plus Tina, turns out to be a complicated journey as the agency has botched the adoption papers and this quartet has to go through two sets of possible parents without any luck. When they finally get to the real parents, Mel is probably thinking if trying to meet his real family was worth all the trouble.
"Flirting with Disaster" is at times a road movie because of the many turns the story takes Mel and his own family. David O. Russell directed the film with great sense of style as he takes us along. Ben Stiller, who still had not made a splash in the movies, is impressive as the likable Mel, who gets much more than what he bargained for. Tea Leoni who is seen as Nancy, made a terrific impression on us when we saw the film originally. She proves here why she was destined for bigger and better things. Her inter action with Ben Stiller is the best thing in the film.
The rest of the cast is excellent. Mary Tyler Moore's Pearl Coplin is one of the best things she has done in her career. She makes this woman real. George Segal, a great comedy actor with great timing, appears as Ed Coplin. Patricia Arquette, who is Nancy, doesn't have much to do because she plays Nancy, the most grounded person in the film. Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin are the real parents, who are former hippies from New Mexico and in spite of being older, they still are young at heart doing the same things they did when they were younger.
"Flirting with Disaster" owes a lot to David O. Russell who also wrote the screen play and is a natural for this type of comedy.
I'm under the impression that 'Flirting With Disaster' JUST isn't getting the respect it totally deserves. No special DVD or anything, it just sits there, waiting to be discovered. I saw this when it first hit the theater, and I have it on VHS (yeah yeah I know, I'm just waiting for the special edition DVD to come out!). I love the plot of this one. Ben Stiller travels with his perfectly cast wife, Patricia Arquette and the adoption agency agent, played by Tia Leoni to try to discover his parents who gave him up for adoption. He needs to have a sense of closure, and also to give a name to his son. He probably didn't realize that this would involve Indian wrestling, truck driving lessons, or a married male couple of FBI agents. The story just piles one hilarious situation after another. I've seen this film at LEAST 10 times and I STILL laugh out loud. It's just THAT funny!
David O. Russell's 1996 flick "Flirting with Disaster" might not leave
the audience feeling dirty afterward like his prior work "Spanking the
Monkey", but what it lacks in controversy it makes up for in over the
top wackiness. This is modern-day dark edged screwball comedy that
would like make master filmmaker Howard Hawks ("His Girl Friday",
"Bringing Up Baby") proud.
Russell's film weaves the ludicrous story of a thirty year old, first time father who can't overcome the challenges of not knowing his birth parents enough to see his wife's sexual advances or even give his kid a name. Who else could we expect to see in a role so heavily stacked with Murphy's Law possibilities than that consummate lovable loser Ben Stiller? Before we know it he, his wife, and an incompetent adoption case worker set out to meet his birth parents.
What follows is the full range of comedic possibilities from the standard road trip to off-the-wall characterizations, mistaken identity, love triangles, attempted murder, and armpit fetishism. Somehow it all flows so brilliantly that all of the craziness becomes quite plausible in what turns out to be a film that is a bit charming and damn funny.
FLIRTING WITH DISASTER (1996) **** Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Alan Alda, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Lily Tomlin, Richard Jenkins, Josh Brolin. Hilarious and wickedly sharp satire about a young man (Stiller in a memorable turn) searching for his identity by trying to locate his biological parents while alienating his neglected and lovely wife (the yummy Arquette) and Leoni (simply wonderful) as his adoption broker. Fine ensemble cast (especially Moore in an inconoclastic poke at her image) and Alda (ditto). Subversive good, clean fun and seriously dysfunctional family values (thank God!) from filmmaker David O. Russell beating the Sophomore Jinx (in this his second turn at the helm).
Comedies like this are a real rarerity, especially nowadays. You almost never see a movie thats this intelligent and funny. Ben Stiller is hilarious as the man who is traveling around the US to find his biological parents. Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda are hilarious as well as his biological parents. This is definately a must see comedy, and I very rarely give comedies good reviews. ***1/2 out of ****.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maybe called "Deconstructing Mel." Ben Stiller, his wife Patricia Arquette,
and an adoption agency representative, Tea Leoni, go on the road in search
of Stiller's "birth parents." Ben is nervous and mostly passive. His wife
apologizes for having put on weight during her recent pregnancy. The
statuesque Leoni and Stiller find themselves attracted to one another,
although neither is ready for an affair.
The search takes them to San Diego where Stiller's mother turns out to be a materialistic nonentity with two radiantly healthy daughters, a big ranch house, a collection of glass zodiac figures, and no brains. It turns out to have been a mistake.
They next find themselves in Michigan where Stiller's father is an ex-Hell's Angel who now drives a truck and twits Stiller for looking Jewish. This is also a mistake.
Next stop, Antelope Wells, New Mexico, navel of the universe, where Stiller's parents are revealed to be a couple of aging hippies, Alda and Tomlin, with a lunatic son who is a selfish and jealous young man who doses the quail dinner and sends one of the visitors on an unwitting acid trip. Oh, the trio of investigators has picked up a male couple who are married. One of them is Arquette's ex-boyfriend and likes to lick her armpit.
Stiller's parents of orientation, a nice Jewish couple, show up unexpectedly, there is a mix up of vehicles, and Stiller's adoptive father, George Segal, gets caught by the police with his arms full of dope.
Despite all the travel, the movie doesn't really go anywhere in particular. Oddball is heaped upon oddball, gag upon gag. Stiller stutters a good deal, and there is a lot of overlapping nervous chatter, and people normalize all over the place -- Alda explains that after Stiller was born, he, Alda, and Tomlin spent some time in the slams but it was for nothing. Less important than a speeding ticket. It wasn't even illegal. Or it shouldn't have been. Everyone was making LSD in those days and "it's not addicting."
The question isn't really whether the movie assumes the morphology of a Woody Allen movie, but whether it gets its job done -- and it does. As far as that goes, the situational and conversational gags are funnier than many of those in Woody's recent movies. And if the movie lacks depth, well, that's okay. "Deconstructing Harry" didn't have much depth either, and neither did most of Charlie Chaplin.
If the style is a little irritating it's because we've seen it and heard it so often before. But the jokes are usually funny. The performers are up to the task and the pace never drags. The direction is well handled too. Example: Segal and Mary Tyler Moore discover that they are driving the wrong car, now immobilized on the highway, that it may not be theirs. "Look in the trunk and see if our baggage is there," says Moore. Segal rummages through the trunk hysterical with worry. No luggage. Just a lot of junk in bags and briefcases, which Segal tears open to find that his trunk is now loaded with illegal drugs. The cops come and catch him. But the director doesn't spell out the entire ordeal for us. Gradually, as Segal stares at the drug factory in his hands, and as he starts shouting at Moore, we see that blinking red lights are beginning to light up the scene and we hear a car pull to a stop off camera. (We see no car, no cops, and we hear no voices.) Segal, still holding the paraphernalia, turns towards the source of the red light wordlessly, with an idiotic smile. Dissolve. A less trusting director would have taken us through the entire encounter with the police, the two big brutes in intimidating uniforms and their baritone voices, Segal's and Moore's silly attempts at an explanation. But what we see, though truncated, is funnier because it prompts our imagination to fill in the rest of the scene.
Not badly done. Amusing, really.
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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