6.8/10
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103 user 51 critic

Flirting with Disaster (1996)

R | | Comedy | 12 April 1996 (USA)
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A young man, his wife, and his incompetent case worker travel across country to find his birth parents.

Director:

David O. Russell
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Stiller ... Mel Coplin
Patricia Arquette ... Nancy Coplin
Téa Leoni ... Tina Kalb
Mary Tyler Moore ... Pearl Coplin
George Segal ... Ed Coplin
Alan Alda ... Richard Schlichting
Lily Tomlin ... Mary Schlichting
Richard Jenkins ... Paul Harmon
Josh Brolin ... Agent Tony Kent
Celia Weston ... Valerie Swaney
Glenn Fitzgerald ... Lonnie Schlichting
Beth Stern ... Jane (as Beth Ostrosky)
Cynthia LaMontagne ... Sandra (as Cynthia Lamontagne)
David Patrick Kelly ... Fritz Boudreau
John Ford Noonan John Ford Noonan ... Mitch
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Storyline

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 <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Have you flirted yet?

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexuality and a comic drug scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 April 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amori e disastri See more »

Filming Locations:

Carefree, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,891,000, 31 December 1996
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Miramax See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Cusack was considered for the role of Mel Coplin. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Tina: Do you worry about the risk factor involved in gay sex?
Agent Paul: You know, it may be news to you, but not every gay man has, uh, anal sex. That's where a lot of the HIV risk lies.
Agent Tony: For example, I'm very anal. Uh, I-I mean, in, uh, in the sense... that I'm compulsively careful and clean about what touches my body. Not into penetration, at all.
Mel: Okay, do we have to talk about this right now?
Nancy Coplin: Well, why not? Are you a homophobic?
Mel: No, I...
Nancy Coplin: I think it's interesting.
Mel: Really? Well, I think in front of the baby we...
[...]
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Alternate Versions

The VHS and laserdisc versions (but not the DVD release) feature additional scenes during the end credits, not included in the original theatrical cut, showing the whereabouts of Tina and Tony and Paul. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Wanderlust (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Lend Me Your Comb
Written by Kay Twomey, Ben Weisman and Fred Wise
Performed by Carl Perkins
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A man stumbles and bumbles his way to his zany biological parents...screwball almost!
18 March 2013 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

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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