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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
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  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English - Hearing Impaired
  • Additional footage
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  • Audio commentary
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The In-Laws (2002)

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . M15+ . PAL


Michael Douglas dominates the Andrew Fleming comedy The In-Laws.

And that is a considerable problem. Here is a man with no noticeable sense of humour at all, but with a screen-filling, awesomely palpable smugness. He plays for laughs, but is all the time shouting at us "look at me. I'm a serious actor and I can do comedy too. God I'm clever." In fact he's neither funny enough for comedy, nor young enough for espionage. He's just embarrassing.

It's not revealing anything to let you know that the basic premise of this movie is that Michael Douglas is a crook who has somehow managed to con the CIA into letting him operate as one of their agents under the deepest of covers.

The son of this crooked CIA agent is about to be wed. And Michael Douglas, while working on one of his most ambitious international scams, has to pretend, at the same time, that he is actually a loving and caring father. The pretence gets all fouled up, and the prospective father of the bride, Jerry Peyser (played by Albert Brooks), gets enmeshed in the world of espionage, intrigue and crime.

The concept is promising and there are quite a few laughs. But starting right with Michael Douglas, the film is ruined by a jokey 'aren't we smart?' quality which imbues the entire production. Candice Bergen tries hard in her cameo role as Douglas's estranged wife, but the only real acting honours go to veteran British charactor-actor David Suchet (remember him as television's Hercules Poirot?) as a psychopathic homophobic homosexual gangster - a great performance lighting up an otherwise fairly cruddy movie.


This anamorphic transfer is great - colours are alive and vibrant and never smeared, and shadow details in interior scenes are beautifully rendered. DVDs are just getting better and better, and this is right up there with the best.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is clear and finely balanced, with strong audio effects never masking the dialogue. I watched The Matrix Reloaded not long after, and noticed by contrast how much of the dialogue in that movie was rendered almost inaudible by variable recording levels and bad layering of dialogue against effects. The In-Laws, although a mediocre movie, does boast great audio credentials.


If you are really into this movie, then the extra features will go down well. If you think the movie is pretty much a time-waster, don't expect anyhing here to change your mind.

The audio commentary from director Andrew Fleming offers almost nothing of worth except to convince you that here's a young director straight out of nerd-college, who knows next to nothing about the history of film. Then again, this could be a deep deep joke commentary track, in line with the commentary on the latest (second) DVD release of This Is Spinal Tap. But somehow I don't think so.

There is a strictly unfunny gag reel showing a special effect which didn't cut the ice first and second time round. Then three additional scenes which demonstrate pretty clearly why they were no loss to the movie at all.

There are then multiple takes of a couple of scenes featuring Albert Brooks. Now here's a man with an impeccable lineage as stand-up comic, writer and director. How could so many desperately unfunny takes be selected? How could this genuine comedian make himself appear so desperately dull and unfunny?

There is a short 'parachute jump' effects sequence which shows how a scene was shot against a studio blue background to create the illusion of a leap from the roof of a skyscraper. This is worthwhile; a fascinating glimpse into the world of special-effects creation. And finally, there's an anamorphic transfer in great condition of the theatrical trailer.


If you're a fan of Albert Brooks or Michael Douglas, or want to see a great acting display by David Suchet, then rent, rent, rent. One viewing should be enough. But most people would do well to stay away from this fairly mediocre offering, which isn't even bad enough to be interesting.

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      And I quote...
    "This mediocre 'comedy' suffers from having Michael Douglas at its centre. Mr. Smugness fills the screen with palpable self-love, and comedy flies out the door."
    - Anthony Clarke
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