Films

A double whammy of Burbank wacko

THE IN-LAWS Directed by Arthur Hiller

Ann Johnston June 25 1979
Films

A double whammy of Burbank wacko

THE IN-LAWS Directed by Arthur Hiller

Ann Johnston June 25 1979

A double whammy of Burbank wacko

Films

THE IN-LAWS Directed by Arthur Hiller

A simpleminded variation on the well-worn Oscar and Felix routine: Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin), successful Jewish dentist with a lovely BMW and high blood pressure, is about to watch his only daughter wed the only son of Vince Ricardo (Peter Falk), undercover agent with questionable references and a pocketful of engravings from the U.S. mint—a match that could only have been made in Burbank. Ricardo wrenches the staid doctor from his root canals, dragging him to a banana republic where they face the firing squad of one General Garcia, squelch an international currency fraud operation, save the economy of the Western world and land safely home in tails and top hats before their offspring can say “I do.” It’s a mouthful of plot that provides plenty of knee-slapping fun up on the screen, but leaves those below slack-jawed. Writer Andrew Bergman (Blazing Saddles) has dished up another double whammy of wacko and the result is disturbingly reminiscent of vintage Jerry Lewis: cars slipping on bananas, an airline named Wong, a choral firing squad. Save for the disappointment of Arkin and Falk, it’s harmless fare. Arkin’s performance is mournfully mediocre. Falk, though competently gruff and scruff, does better on television as the gumshoe with the rumpled raincoat. Together, like General Garcia’s well-laid plans, they collapse like a wet taco.

Ann Johnston