The In-Laws (1979)

Genres - Action, Comedy, Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Odd Couple Film  |   Release Date - Jun 15, 1979 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Nick Sambides, Jr.

Why aren't there more films co-starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk? Writer Andrew Bergman's loopy comedy takes full advantage of the prodigious talent of this double act, giving the two numerous chances to play off one another, and director Arthur Hiller artfully builds the comedy one ticklish brick at a time. In comedies, pace is everything: Even master directors of rigorously timed action films such as Steven Spielberg have bombed badly (1941) when they've tried to be funny. Bergman and Hiller start with a solid-enough premise, the old joke about crazy in-laws, and slowly, quietly add comic layer upon layer. Arkin's mournful gravity lends a humorous reality to the film and Falk's lunacy is so unaffected it seems almost innocent. Yet he's sly, too: The audience can sense his character's innate shrewdness no matter how crazy he seems. Michael Lembeck and Penny Peyser contribute nice bits as the betrothed -- their reaction to the money their fathers have scammed is priceless -- as does Ed Begley Jr. as a CIA station chief. Only Richard Libertini seems to go over the top as the lunatic South American dictator. Still, as in later Bergman works such as The Freshman, there's an underlying affection and sweetness to The In-Laws that makes it a treat.