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Cult Movie Picks - December 2011
Remind Me
,The In-Laws

The In-Laws

Peter Falk and Alan Arkin prove that even the world of international espionage and intrigue can be unexpectedly funny in Arthur Hiller's 1979 buddy comedy The In-Laws. Arkin plays Sheldon Kornpett, a mild-mannered dentist whose daughter is about to marry the son of shady Vince Ricardo (Falk) who claims to be a CIA agent. Sheldon's normally peaceful life is turned upside down when Vince involves him in a series of outrageous adventures to foil a plot to wreck the American currency.

The In-Laws was the first solo screenplay effort by writer Andrew Bergman after working on Mel Brooks' comedy classic Blazing Saddles (1974). Bergman's original and offbeat humor are at their best with The In-Laws which boasts a plot so zany and unpredictable that it's impossible not to enjoy. Director Arthur Hiller honed his comedic credits with films like The Out-of-Towners (1970) and Silver Streak (1976), and he had a huge hit with the romantic weepie Love Story in 1970.

When The In-Laws was first released, it was what the film industry called 'a sleeper' - a film whose popularity grows slowly through word-of-mouth. Eventually, it found a whole new audience through television airings and video rentals. Eventually, it acquired a cult following and it continues to win new fans year after year. The pairing of quirky former Columbo star Peter Falk and straight-man Alan Arkin proved to be inspired casting as the two display a unique on-screen chemistry together. As Sheldon and Vince, the two stars find themselves mixed up with undercover agents, fleeing deadly shootouts, and trying to reason with a crazy South American dictator who talks to his hand. Penny Peyser, Michael Lembeck and Ed Begley, Jr. shine in the supporting cast, but it's character actor Richard Libertini who really steals the show as General Garcia.

Falk and Arkin worked so well together that they teamed up again in 1985 to make another buddy comedy Big Trouble. Even though they were reunited with The In-Laws screenwriter Andrew Bergman (this time credited as Warren Bogle), Big Trouble failed to make a big splash. The In-Laws remains the audience favorite, and its loyal fans are always instantly recognizable whenever you hear someone yell the phrase, "Serpentine! Serpentine!"

Producer: Arthur Hiller, William Sackheim
Director: Arthur Hiller
Screenplay: Andrew Bergman
Production Design: Pato Guzman
Cinematography: David M. Walsh
Film Editing: Robert Swink
Original Music: John Morris
Principal Cast: Peter Falk (Vince Ricardo), Alan Arkin (Sheldon Kornpett), Richard Libertini (Gen. Garcia), Nancy Dussault (Carol Kornpett), Arlene Golonka (Jean Ricardo), Michael Lembeck (Tommy Ricardo), Paul L. Smith (Mo), Ed Begley, Jr. (Barry Lutz), David Paymer (cab driver).

by Andrea Passafiume



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