The In-Laws (USA, 1979)

Directed by: Arthur Hiller. I’m fairly picky when it comes to comedy, and I didn’t really have a clear idea of what 70’s comedy is even like. But I do like 70’s spy-thrillers (of which this is nominally a parody), and I love Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, so it was kind of a no-brainer. Falk and Arkin as mis-matched in-laws, one a dowdy dentist and the other a secret international spy? This is like Three Days of the Condor and the Odd Couple. What’s not to like? And it turns out, I was kind of right, this movie is basically that. In light of my last post, I might have expected to have loved this movie, because as far as comedies go, this is very quaint and safe and old-timey, and very much the opposite of Central Intelligence, even though they’re both comedies that are not entirely parodies of the spy genre, but are kind participating in the spy genre, so they’re actually very similar. And I have no scientific measurements to go by, but I think I laughed a bit more and a bit harder than I did for Central Intelligence, but not by a ton. I enjoyed this movie, but I don’t remember laughing whole-heartedly with my belly the way I did for a few moments in Spy. Come to think of it, I seem to spend a lot of time on spy-comedies. And for that matter, this movie had the same kind of thing that Central Intelligence had, with a bit of shifting epistemological ground so that you don’t know who to trust, but a bit less pronounced and less devastating than in that movie. I guess maybe my observation wasn’t terribly profound, maybe this is just a feature of spy movies, maybe Hitchcock did this 100 times in the 40’s and I just wasn’t paying attention. Either way, Falk and Arkin are a pair I could watch all day, Richard Libertini as that crazy dictator at the end just killed me (that’s where the belly laughs came in!), and as usual, it’s great to see New York in the 70’s on film, and I don’t know why. Either way, this is a worthwhile use of 90 minutes of your time. (And even though I haven’t heard great things about it, the 2003 remake with Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas is also kind of irresistible to me.)

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One response to “The In-Laws (USA, 1979)

  1. Pingback: To Be or Not to Be (USA, 1942) | Offhand Reviews·

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