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Warner Home Video presents
The In-Laws (2003) (2003)

Steve: Doctor, do you know what a 'roofie' is?
Jerry: Yeah, I know what a roofie is. Frat boys give them to girls at parties.

- Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: October 13, 2003

Stars: Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks, Candice Bergen, Lindsay Sloane, Robin Tunney, Ryan Reynolds
Other Stars: David Suchet, Russell Andrews, Maria Ricossa, K.C. and the Sunshine Band
Director: Andrew Fleming

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (suggestive humor, language, some drug references and action violence)
Run Time: 01h:37m:43s
Release Date: October 07, 2003
UPC: 085392466825
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BA-A B-

DVD Review

When I first got wind of the Warner Bros. remake of the highly regarded 1979 comedy, The In-Laws, my first reaction was probably not unlike many of you out there reading: Why? Now, although I have not seen the original going into this review (save for the deservedly legendary, movie clip favorite "hand puppet" segment), its legend looms high among the cult crowd. Secondly, a Michael Douglas-Albert Brooks pairing? What...? Strangely enough, the virtues of an "opposite ends of the spectrum" collaboration gives this 2003 update an oddball charm.

The basic premise of the Andrew Bergman-penned original goes unchanged, save for a few slight modifications here and there. Douglas is CIA agent Steve Tobias, a man who lives for daring-do, but is faced with the heavy task of preventing bad guy Jean Pierre-Thibodoux (David Suchet) from obtaining a Russian sub currently docked in the good old USA. Speaking of home, there's a more pressing matter at hand: the marriage of only his son, Mark (Ryan Reynolds), over the weekend to the lovely Melissa Peyser (Lindsay Sloane), not to mention a long postponed meeting with future in-laws Jerry and Katherine (Brooks, Maria Ricossa).

Managing to keep his day job at bay for a bit, Steve makes it stateside to take time off from his copy machine sales duties (wink, wink) to treat the impending newlyweds and their family to a pre-wedding meal at a classy Vietnamese restaurant. But no good undercover man can be off duty for long and in no time, Tobias is back on the front line attempting to meet with a "business" contact in the bathroom, a conversation Jerry innocently wanders in on as the truth slowly comes out. Meanwhile, the FBI gets involved, suspecting Steve may be a rogue agent, and that poor Jerry couldt be his accomplice. Before you know it, Jerry, the fussy foot doctor with an aversion to flying (among MANY other neuroses) finds himself aboard Barbara Streisand's private plane (don't ask) with Steve at the controls. Dragged along and cast in the role of a reluctant right-hand man in enemy territory, Jerry soon finds himself the object of not-so-coveted apple of Thibodoux's eye while playing undercover as the infamous "Fat Cobra" (again, I beseech you, don't ask).

Despite its inconsistent chuckle ratio and tendency to go off the wildness scale, version 2.0 of The In-Laws succeeds, primarily due to the talents of the two leads. In particular, Brooks, in a performance so game, so "anything goes" (why doesn't this guy make more movies?) that, like his character, you find yourself won over and going along for the ride (albeit with much less kicking and screaming). Also, after a seemingly never-ending series of overdone pot-boilers, it's great to have Douglas back in his reckless comedic charmer mode and, although his chemistry with Brooks takes a good half hour to get out of the starting gate, once they click, the resulting appeal is undeniable (with an uproarious mid-film confrontation at a pre-wedding rehearsal dinner as proof). Equally good are the supporting players, including David Suchet as the submarine smuggler, Thibodoux, who is aroused by Jerry (despite the homosexual deal kind of turning Jerry off); the effective pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Lindsay Sloane as the appealingly happy couple who still adore their parents in spite of their quirks. Robin Tunney displays a nice flair for comedy as Tobias' brainy, sexy sidekick. Standing head and shoulders above those impressive turns is Candice Bergen, continuing a late-period career upswing streak of hilarious character roles as Steve's ex-wife, gamely trying to put the bitterness of her past in check with the aid of her spiritual adviser and "powerful prescription drugs."

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: With the Warner branding, do I have to waste bandwidth by telling you it's pretty darn good? Well, not so fast, review prognosticators; it's not perfect. Some of the outdoor scenes suffer from slightly over-baked contrast along with occasional edge enhancement shortcomings. But when the visual elements click (the filtering blues of the secret agent set pieces, well shot exteriors, etc.), the results are sublime and up to par with most of the WB's digital output. Detail and sharpness are very good to excellent, too.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: With its blend of comedy and action, the 5.1 is a bit more active than for most movies of this type at times, particularly when music is involved (dig the alternate version of Paul McCartney and Wings' Live and Let Die in the early going). Aside from a slightly subdued subwoofer presence, it's a very versatile effort that's showy when circumstances warrant (the opening car chase and jet-fueled opening sequence; the climatic jet ski finale) and low-key like typical comedies in the quieter moments (which are few and far between).

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The In-Laws (1979)
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Andrew Fleming
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: :00h:29m:23s

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag Reel
  2. Multiple Takes With Albert Brooks (The Car Ride, The Airplane Bathroom)
Extras Review: Although not listed as a special edition, a small yet impressive lot of supplements should please fans of the film. Chief among them is Multiple Takes With Albert Brooks, which showcases one of the best comic minds working today. A prime study in the art of ad libbing, two short but key scenes from the film are showcased via several takes with Brooks adding various nuances and alternating between increased and decreased intensity on certain lines, which must have made it difficult for director Andrew Fleming to decide what bits to use—there's not a bad one in the bunch. Speaking of Fleming, his laid back commentary may be a bit blasť for some and at first, I thought he was going to fall into the trap of narrating every scene. But the dry-witted filmmaker quickly unearths a stream of very interesting stories on many aspects of the production, including the trickery involved in action scenes, his past familiarity with co-stars Sloane and Tunney (in Grosse Pointe and The Craft, respectively) and an amusing recollection on how he became so fascinated with a modified meter maid vehicle he bought it upon completion of filming.

Three brief, inconsequential deleted scenes, a smile-inducing gag reel, and trailers for both the original and re-vamped In-Laws complete the package (and in the case of the latter, look carefully at the director's credit on the title card before it goes to black. I guess Hollywood's been a little slow to embrace spell check.)

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Truly the definition of a star vehicle, the charms of Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks provide more than enough power to fuel The In-Laws.


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