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It’s always a stressful time when two kids decide to get married and two families become one big one, even more so when one side of the family is a little crazy.
In many ways Arthur Hiller’s The In-Laws is the birth of the madcap action comedy that brings the best of both worlds together and it results in something that still holds up today as one of the best pieces of comedy ever put to the screen.
It’s your classic set up as Alan Arkin’s mild mannered dentist casts a suspicious eye towards the wildly eccentric Peter Falk as our dentist’s daughter is only a few days away from marrying this mystery man’s son. Little did our dentist Sheldon realize that it is much worse than he could have possibly imagined and before he knows it he is being chased all across suburban New Jersey all the way to the jungle’s of Honduras, as his new friend Vince is working a black op on behalf of the CIA with Sheldon as his new partner…except no one really asked Sheldon.
Filled with charm, vim and vigour; The In-Laws is one of those movies that you know just by looking at was the inspiration for decades of comedy as it is an action filled goof ball delight that marks as a peak in the career of director Arthur Hiller and hinted at what was yet to come from writer Andrew Bergman.
Hiller was obviously a comedic veteran at this stage in his directorial career and had never been afraid to work across multiple genres throughout his career. In this film, the action and the comedy always feel like they go hand in hand, neither character is being asked to do anything truly ridiculous and we believe not only the tension in the action but the genuine comedic chemistry between these two men. Hiller allows these men to walk from ridiculous situation to ridiculous situation and they both sell it so damn well that you can’t help but get drawn into the chase of it all.
Andrew Bergman who had this as his follow up to Blazing Saddles and would go on to write classics of the genre like Fletch & Soapdish gave us what is basically the birth of the mismatched partner action comedy. It flows with such deadpan hilarity that it is hard to keep up with the jokes because we are just laughing on the floor. It’s rare that we can mark the actual birth of a genre but this film is one of those one’s that is in the pantheon of things that simply have to been seen and is a desert island movie for anyone trying to write or take part in anything comedic. Much like any good comedy, this never works without the comedic timing and sensibilities of its two fantastic leads.
Alan Arkin and Peter Falk go together like butter and the hot toast that you are dying to spread it on each and every morning. It’s a fun, wild romp that you ultimately just have to roll with. It’s almost a little sad that this is the only the first of two times (that I can think of) where Falk and Arkin worked together. They go so well together in the spirit of Abbot and Costello and countless other duos. Both men played off of each other to an absolute tee and kept us guessing all the way through.
Special features on this Blu-Ray release include a brand new 2K restoration with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack, audio commentary from 2003 featuring director Arthur Hiller, Peter Falk, Alan Arkin along with writer Andrew Bergman. A new interview with Alan Arkin as he gives his insights into the production, In Support of ‘The In-Laws’ as Ed Begley Jr, Nancy Dussault, James Hong & David Paymer all talk about their unique experiences in making the film. Plus a booklet with an essay on the film by comedy writer Stephen Winer and a 2011 recollection of the making of the film from Hiller himself.
At the end of the day, The In-Laws is a must own, because it has inspired so many other comedy classics…but more importantly because even now 37 years later, this movie is one hell of a lot of fun.