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Flirting With Disaster

Flirting With Disaster (1996)



Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 51
Fresh: 44 | Rotten: 7

Darkly funny, solidly cast, and surprisingly thoughtful, Flirting with Disaster proved David O. Russell's Spanking the Monkey was no fluke.


Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 0

Darkly funny, solidly cast, and surprisingly thoughtful, Flirting with Disaster proved David O. Russell's Spanking the Monkey was no fluke.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 9,127

My Rating

Movie Info

In this satirical comedy, Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller) has a beautiful wife, Nancy (Patricia Arquette), and a four-month old son, and on the surface his life is good. But something's been troubling him: Mel knows he was adopted, and he can't resolve his issues with the mother who gave him away years ago, much to the annoyance of his adoptive parents (George Segal and Mary Tyler Moore). Mel decides it's time he met his birth parents and resolved his feelings once and for all, and Tina (Tea Leoni), a



David O. Russell

Jun 15, 1999

Miramax Films

Watch It Now


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All Critics (53) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (7) | DVD (16)

David O. Russell has a twisted mind; I like that in a man.

September 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This whacked-out road comedy about a young man's search for his real parents takes any number of unexpected turns, most of them bitingly funny.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The neurotic frenzy threatens to annoy, but Russell's edgy, abbreviated style generates farcical comic friction without sacrificing character.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are conventions in this sort of story, and Russell seems to violate most of them. He allows the peculiarities of his characters to lead them away from the plot line and into perplexities of their own.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hang on and prepare to laugh continually.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The perpetual motion is a deliciously hysterical rush. This offbeat, documentary-like comedy becomes geometrically funnier as it goes along.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Entertainment for the whole dysfunctional family.

February 13, 2008 Full Review Source:

Boasting a clever title, this is an inspired piece of lunacy about sociology versus biology, with terrific performances from Ben Stiller and his two sets of parents.

June 27, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comments (2)

When I caught this modern-day screwball comedy in theaters I didn't think much of it, and it's even less appealing now.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (3)
Combustible Celluloid

One Stiller movie I actually enjoyed.

August 14, 2004

If Russell is erratic with plot and the slightest bit smug in attitude, he makes up for these flaws by drawing fun, inspired performances from his ace cast.

July 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

Avoiding the safety of the PC blanket, David O. Russell has crafted a canny, crafty and altogether adorable little misfit of a movie.

July 1, 2004 Full Review Source:

Sounds like a French farce, you say? Well, you got that right. And it's just as entertaining.

June 5, 2004 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Outstanding, uproariously funny dark comedy

April 2, 2004
Kalamazoo Gazette

Um elenco afiado, personagens atípicos e situações bizarras contribuem para tornar este filme uma comédia surpreendentemente eficaz.

March 9, 2004
Cinema em Cena

Excellent comedy. You can just feel how good intentions turn disastrous.

July 25, 2003

Not exactly bad. Actually, an okay way to spend 90 minutes of your life.

April 11, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

A brilliant, underrated comedy, featuring one of the more inspired comic screenplays in recent years. It established David O. Russell as a major voice in Hollywood.

April 4, 2003
KFOR Channel 4 News

Stiller's never been better as an actor.

February 3, 2003
New Times

A riot from start to finish. You'll laugh so hard you'll cry!

September 18, 2002

The film isn't particularly deep, but it's well written, well acted, and often laugh-out-loud funny.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

Hysterically funny movie about sex, marriage, and the surprises that make life worth living.

August 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

"Flirting With Disaster" is no exception to Stiller's disappointing cinematic track record.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for Flirting With Disaster

Lonnie Schlichting: I'm sorry that I put windowpane in Mel's quail, and I'm sorry that you ate it. 

"Have you flirted yet?"

I absolutely loved Flirting with Disaster. It is almost a picture perfect comedy. I'll admit that I didn't think it was going to be as funny as it was, but once I turned it on; it was nonstop hilarious. I'm not the biggest fan of anyone in this cast, but they were all marvelous here. I like Ben Stiller to a degree, but he isn't what I think of when I think of extremely funny guys. Arquette and Leoni are also not two of my favorite actresses, but their presence in this one was great. Also, Josh Brolin is pretty funny as well. There's a good supporting cast including the likes of Mary Tyler Moore and Alan Alda. 

So, Flirting with Disaster is about Mel, a married man with a baby that hasn't been named yet. He's the product of adoption and he wants to know where his "roots" are, much to the chagrin of his adoptive parents. When a case worker said she has located his mother in San Diego, the couple, their baby and the case worker take off for San Diego. Well, the case worker was wrong. It isn't his mother. Then they take off to Michigan on another lead, and finally end up in New Mexico. Along the way they pick up a bi-sexual federal agent who went to school with Mel's wife and his also federal agent man lover. They deal with a B&B, a truck accident, and an accidental LSD trip; and it is all hilarious. 

I haven't seen too many movies from David O. Russell. I always mean to watch some of his films, but I haven't really got around to it. Both the films I've seen from him, I've loved. The Fighter and now, Flirting with Disaster, while completely different, are both extremely well written and directed by Russell. I love the kind of screwball, quirky way this movie moves from one comedic scene to another. I would never call it a screwball comedy, but it definitely has screwball elements. I would also never call it a purely quirky film, but there are moments of quirk. 

Flirting with Disaster was a fun movie and actually quite a surprise. I really did fall in love with it quickly. The dialogue is great and the chemistry between all the actors is great. Russell really got everything out of every performance just as he did recently with The Fighter. This is a great little hybrid between family drama, road movie, and screwball comedy, and Russell mixes all the elements together to make for an extremely pleasing experience.
July 28, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Flirting With Disarter is a creative dark comedy with different themes, but that David O. Russell can make a funny and terrific film. Fresh.
March 19, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

A less than stellar comedy concerning a young couple (Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette) who feel it is important to discover Stiller's true biological parents before they can name their newborn child. Dumb premise is saved by a screenplay with ferocious comical bite, mostly thanks to tremendous acting that help make the dialogue and conversations likeable enough. The first half is well-executed given what the premise of the film is, however the second half of the film falls flat on its face repeating the same joke over and over again til' its dead. And, while they are funny, Richard Jenkins and James Brolin as a gay couple who work together as law officers (you read that right) serve no realistic purpose for being in this story whatsoever. It does have some great one-liners ("Hey buddy, you come in here, you lick my wife's armpit...") and the cast from top to bottom is fantastic and impressive, but the story begins to feel quirky for the sake of quirky's sake, and that's when it gets a little annoying.
February 18, 2012
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

David O. Russell is a really awkward filmmaker, there's always something that doesn't sit quite right. The scenes with Patricia Arquette were the best, but I felt like it was trying to get at something it never quite hit.
May 1, 2011

Super Reviewer

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