Flirting With Disaster (1996)



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

Movie Info

A new father, his wife, their four-month-old baby and an odd-ball adoption agency psychologist embark upon a zany quest for his biological parents in this wickedly funny screwball satire from David O. Russell. Mel Coplin wants to find his real parents before he chooses a name for his son. One meeting with his hyper-neurotic adoptive parents explains why he wants to name the kids after someone else. They, already normally loud and domineering, nearly go ballistic when they find out about the … More

Rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: David O. Russell
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 15, 1999
Miramax Films - Official Site


as Mel Coplin

as Nancy Coplin

as Tina Kalb

as Mrs. Coplin

as Mr. Coplin

as Richard Schlicting

as Mary Schlicting

as Valerie Swaney

as Lonnie Schlicting

as Fritz Boudreau

as Cop #1

as Detective

as Flight Attendant

as Alternative Wife
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Flirting With Disaster

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (10)

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

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Entertainment for the whole dysfunctional family.

Full Review… | February 13, 2008

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.

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.

Lucas Martins
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.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Flirting With Disaster Quotes

– Submitted by Frances H (11 months ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (11 months ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (11 months ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (11 months ago)

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