• R, 1 hr. 33 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:
    David O. Russell
    In Theaters:
    Mar 22, 1996 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jun 15, 1999
  • Miramax Films


65% The Maze Runner Sep 19
65% A Walk Among the Tombstones Sep 19
52% This Is Where I Leave You Sep 19
84% Tracks Sep 19
92% The Guest Sep 17

Top Box Office

11% No Good Deed $24.3M
72% Dolphin Tale 2 $15.9M
92% Guardians of the Galaxy $8.1M
19% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $4.9M
20% Let's Be Cops $4.4M
89% The Drop $4.1M
37% If I Stay $3.9M
36% The November Man $2.8M
33% The Giver $2.6M
67% The Hundred-Foot Journey $2.4M

Coming Soon

68% The Equalizer Sep 26
70% The Boxtrolls Sep 26
86% The Two Faces of January Sep 26
—— Two Night Stand Sep 26
91% Jimi: All Is by My Side Sep 26

Premieres Tonight

24% The Mysteries of Laura: Season 1
59% Red Band Society: Season 1

New Episodes Tonight

86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
83% Extant: Season 1
—— Franklin & Bash: Season 4
—— The League: Season 6
56% Legends: Season 1

Discuss Last Night's Shows

—— Brickleberry: Season 3
88% Finding Carter: Season 1
67% Matador: Season 1
71% The Mindy Project: Season 3
100% New Girl: Season 4
83% Sons of Anarchy: Season 7

Flirting With Disaster Reviews

Page 1 of 21

Super Reviewer

July 28, 2012
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.
Lucas M

Super Reviewer

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

Super Reviewer

February 18, 2012
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.
Jennifer X

Super Reviewer

May 1, 2011
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.
Leigh R

Super Reviewer

August 30, 2010
Funny. Kind of boring in the beginning but towards the end it gets pretty hilarious and goofy.
Mark W

Super Reviewer

July 11, 2010
Director David O. Russell has certainly got a quirky style and this being only his second film, you can see where he honed those quirky talents of his.
Mel and Nancy Coplin (Ben Stiller and Patricia Arquette) are a married couple who have started a young family. The problem is though, having been adopted from an early age, Mel has some unanswered questions about his past and his real parents. As a result, he can't give his 4 month old baby a name until he has tracked down his biological parents and get a better idea of where he comes from. This then has him, his wife and his adoption case worker (Tea Leoni) travelling across America in search of answers and finding themselves in all sorts of wacky company and ludicrous situations.
There is lots to be enjoyed here in this situational comedy about a dysfunctional family with equally dysfunctional friends, striving to just live their lives in the way they see fit. It's just that with everybody striving for different things, there are bound to be clashes and it's these clashes that provide the backbone to this farsical comedy. There is plenty of sharply written dialogue from well written individual characters, played by an excellent ensemble of actors. This is one of Stiller's earlier goffball roles and you can see why he has now been typecast. Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda are a treat as Mel's birth parents who haven't really left the sixties and still retain their tantric, hallucinogenic approach to the world but the real star of the show is the wonderfully talented and underrated Richard Jenkins as a homosexual policeman, who unwittingly consumes some LSD in his evening meal.
A hugely talented cast and it also shows the directors early promise but the jokes feel a little forced at times and the film starts to sag around the midway point. However, when Jenkins turns up he safely carries the film home. It's worth it just for him.

Super Reviewer

November 4, 2009
"Have you flirted yet?"

A young man, his wife, and his incompetent case worker travel across country to find his birth parents.

Hilarious and wickedly sharp satire about a young man (Stiller in a memorable turn) searching for his identity by trying to locate his biological parents while alienating his neglected and lovely wife (the yummy Arquette) and Leoni (simply wonderful) as his adoption broker. Fine ensemble cast (especially Moore in an inconoclastic poke at her image) and Alda (ditto). Subversive good, clean fun and seriously dysfunctional family values (thank God!) from filmmaker David O. Russell beating the Sophomore Jinx (in this his second turn at the helm).
Aaron N

Super Reviewer

November 30, 2006
Tina: Every marriage is vulnerable, otherwise being married wouldn't mean anything, would it?

A very funny film that takes a fairly straightforward and serious premise involving finding one's birth parents and turns it into a mix of screwball comedy with some indie film quirkiness. It also has a terrific ensemble cast.

Proving to me once again that Ben Stiller did his best work as an actor during the 90s, he stars as Mel, and new father with his wife Nancy, played by Patricia Arquette, who is intent on finding out who his real parents are, so he can name the baby. Aided by an adoption agent Tina, played by Tea Leoni, looking to document this event, the three head to San Diego to find Mel's real mother. Unfortunately, its just not that easy as mistakes and incompetent work by Tina leads Mel and Nancy on a trip to many different stops before finding the real parents and even then, things do go as planned.

Mr. Coplin: Why is everyone getting worked up all of the sudden? I thought we were gunna talk about getting new carpeting. Taking out this crap and putting in the wall-to-wall.

Also featuring Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Josh Brolin, and Richard Jenkins in a film written and directed by live wire David O. Russel, this movie manages to be very funny, with characters all managing to have various quirks and problems with themselves.

Mary Schlichting: You apologize!
Lonnie Schlichting: I'm sorry.
Mary Schlichting: Sorry for what?
Lonnie Schlichting: I'm sorry that I put windowpane in Mel's quail, and I'm sorry that you ate it.

Its very enjoyable, even if things become all sorts of strange by the end. The dialog is frequently funny and all of the actors get the type of sense of humor that this movie has.

Mel: [to Agent Tony] You got a lot of nerve. You come in here, you lick my wife's armpit. You know... I'm going to have that image in my head for the rest of my life with your tongue in there.
Nancy Coplin: You deserve it.

Super Reviewer

January 31, 2007
Hilariously original and inventive comedy is reminiscent of Preston Sturges at his madcap best; the star-studded cast is in peak form.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 7, 2006
Dysfunctional family comedies are hit or miss, but this one hits. Hard.
Joey S

Super Reviewer

January 6, 2013
Hilarious literally from start to finish, Flirting with Disaster is a great dysfunctional family comedy that stars Ben Stiller in his prime. The movie is funny from its first scene to its last, with laughs coming almost naturally with the absurd situations that the characters are thrust into. A very fun comedy from David O. Russell.
John B

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2010
Early breakthrough film for David O. Russell. Ben Stiller less annoying than usual in this tale with an all-star lineup
Alec B

Super Reviewer

January 14, 2013
A great "existential farce" that only gets better as Stiller unwittingly collects more oddball characters on his bizarre journey.

Super Reviewer

January 6, 2012
Shrewdly winking title as a grown adoptee named Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller) gets way more than he bargained for when he decides to locate his birth parents with the help of a not-fully-competent agency aide (Tea Leoni). Well-assembled cast of TV legends in the parental roles, especially scene-stealing Mary Tyler Moore who is a riot as Mel's high-strung adoptive mother. Deftly creates some funny outrageous moments without coming close to going over-the-top, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Stiller's hair demonstrates with authority why he has crewcut these days, although one has to wonder why it took him so long.
Stephen E

Super Reviewer

November 29, 2011
David O. Russell's comedy of errors "Flirting With Disaster" is downright delightful. It's laugh out loud funny, in all sense of the phrase, and is actually quite well-written. Sure, it may be a little too eccentric for most people's taste, but I very much enjoyed it.
Wu C

Super Reviewer

May 31, 2008
Might be David O. Russell's best film. Ben Stiller in probably his best role.
Sarah P

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2007
Quriky comedy, very odd situations, it was okay..

Super Reviewer

April 12, 2007
June 18, 2014
Pretty bad movie. the acting was decent and it had a few funny parts, but it was not a very structured film.
April 14, 2008
Flirting With Disaster (1996) -- [9.0] -- This ensemble road trip comedy of errors is the sophomore effort from writer/director David O. Russell (Three Kings, Silver Linings Playbook), and stars an impressive troupe of actors who make the whole film feel wondrously improvised. Ben Stiller plays a new father who is searching for his biological birth parents. When an adoption agency rep (Tea Leoni) believes she has located them, Stiller and his wife (Patricia Arquette) begin what turns out to be a doomed cross-country road trip full of false hopes, temptation, and destruction of government property. Mary Tyler Moore and George Segal play Stiller's highly neurotic adoptive parents, while Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin play the counter-culture biological parents -- and I'd be tempted to say these four actors almost steal the show. But "Flirting With Disaster" is full of incredible performances. You also get Richard Jenkins and Josh Brolin as a pair of government agents looking to adopt a kid of their own, and David Patrick Kelly and Celia Weston as two possible birth parents who turn out to be red herrings. Russell keeps "Flirting With Disaster" feeling fresh and spontaneous, so the comedy never feels forced or contrived -- it all feels like it's happening in real time, right before your eyes. He also makes terrific use of hand-held camera work and an eclectic soundtrack featuring a pair of songs from Southern Culture on the Skids and a quirky whistle-driven score by Stephen Endelman. I dislike most comedies, but this is one of my very favorites. I saw it five times during its original theatrical release and have probably watched once or twice a year since then. Whether its re-living Mary Tyler Moore's mispronunciation of the biological parents' name ("The Shit-Kings?!?") or watching Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin try to help Richard Jenkins through an accidental acid trip, "Flirting With Disaster" just keeps getting better and better.
Page 1 of 21
Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile