Combustible Celluloid
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With: Peter Falk, Paul Reiser, Olympia Dukakis, Elizabeth Perkins
Written by: Paul Reiser
Directed by: Raymond De Felitta
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, including some suggestive references
Running Time: 96
Date: 19/03/2013

The Thing About My Folks (2005)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Whaddya Gonna Do?

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In an effort to spin comedy into acceptance, Paul Reiser often mixes humor with pathos, which can easily teeter into schmaltz. Reiser's labor-of-love original screenplay begins when Sam Kleinman (Peter Falk) unexpectedly appears at the home of his son, neurotic writer Ben (Reiser), announcing that his wife (Olympia Dukakis) -- Ben's mother -- has left. The men embark on a road trip in upstate New York and rediscover each other. Falk provides most of the laughs with his amiable, effortless performance as the crusty old codger, while Reiser generously takes the straight man licks. However, director Raymond De Felitta's clinical visual treatment renders the tone too cold and the story constantly wavers between warm comedy and sticky sentiment, only occasionally mixing together in a satisfying froth.

DVD Details: It's amazing how badly this poor little movie was treated; after bad word of mouth spread like wildfire, it never even opened in San Francisco. I thought it was worth checking out, if for no other reason than Falk's performance and Reiser's writing skills, even if the direction was lacking. Even though Reiser did a lot of press promoting the movie -- a labor of love for him -- New Line's DVD is a kind of no-frills crow-eating enterprise with no extras to speak of. (Please also see my interview with Paul Reiser.)

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