In preparation for his daughter's wedding, dentist Sheldon Kornpett meets Vince Ricardo, the groom's father. Vince, a manic fellow who claims to be a government agent, then proceeds to drag Sheldon into a series of chases and misadventures from New York to Central America.
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At the risk of sounding over the hill, why does Hollywood feel the need to remake movies that were perfect the first time around? Okay, I know why they do it, but I still don’t understand why my favorite comedy of all time needed to be “modernized.” But, hey, let me stop shaking my fist at the kids on my front lawn and instead discuss the genius of the original version of The In-Laws, “The First Certified Crazy Person’s Comedy.”
Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are brilliant as Vince Ricardo and Sheldon Kornpett, two men who are about to meet for the first time, even though their children are getting married in a few days. Arkin and Falk are both capable of stealing any scene in any movie. Put them together, and the film lives up to its certifiable billing.
When we first meet Vince, he has just robbed the United States Mint and is holed up on the roof of a building while sirens blare through the streets below. However, he seems more concerned with the Mets starting rotation than he does with the possibility of getting caught. Vince is a bit of a wild card, as we’re about to find out, who is about to change the life of his future in-law, forever.
Sheldon, or Shelly as Vince calls him, a dentist in Manhattan, is a normal, law-abiding citizen who gets home at the same time every night and even overpays his taxes every year. Shelly, not exactly excited about giving his daughter away in the first place, becomes outright defiant after finally meeting Vince.
In one of the funniest scenes in the movie, Vince tells the family about his adventures in “international consulting”, including witnessing giant Tsetse files picking up small children in their beaks (yes, beaks). He couldn’t do anything about the flies, of course, because they are protected under the Guacamole Act of 1917. Arkin’s expressions are priceless, as he’s forced to swallow Falk’s tall tales for the sake of his daughter.
Shelly wants nothing to do with Vince, but also wants to make his family happy, so he agrees to be more open to the flaky father-in-law to be. As a result of his new open mind, Shelly spends the next two days dodging bullets, fleeing the United States Treasury and getting attacked by Central American assassins. While all of this is happening, Shelly learns more and more about Vince and starts to wonder if there really is a method to his madness or if he is just as insane as he seems.
While the story itself is a perfect blend of controlled comic chaos and unexpected twists, it is the chemistry between Falk and Arkin that elevate The In-Laws to classic status. Everyone should check out this movie, even if… no, especially if you have only seen the remake. You’ll thank me. But for those of you who don’t want to bother with an “old” movie… you kids get off my lawn!
- Drew Greco