Flirting With Disaster Reviews
It stars Ben Stiller as Mel Coplin, a new father convinced that he cannot name his son until he meets his biological parents, much to the annoyance of his wife, Nancy (Patricia Arquette), and his neurotic mother and father (Mary Tyler Moore and George Segal). After a few visits to his former adoption agency, he is finally given the answers needed to track down the people who abandoned him so many years ago; and so he and his wife hit the road, baby and sexy adoption agency employee Tina (Téa Leoni) in tow. But what should be a simple journey of self-discovery goes haywire when Tina's incompetence leads them to a various number of strangers, one comic situation piling on top of another. And it doesn't help that Tina, effortlessly tempting, acts as a sex symbol in comparison to the moody, out-of-sorts Nancy. She could easily derail their marriage.
Funny how much of the film's humor doesn't branch off of Stiller, Arquette, or Leoni - they are a gaggle of straight-mans in a land of scene-stealers. Comedic champions await us after every wrong turn comes to an end. First we're introduced to Moore and Segal, who bicker with the over-the-top ticklishness of George Costanza's parents and make shrewd observations to Arquette's Nancy without noticing their inappropriateness. Then we get Celia Weston (the first in a line of faux biological parents), a blond screwball who forgives Mel for knocking over her entire China collection - it's a chance to make up for all the childhood accidents that never got to happen! - until Tina delivers the news that they're not related and it's demanded that damages must be paid. After, we find ourselves in the presence of the gay cops (Josh Brolin and Richard Jenkins) who arrest Mel for a misunderstanding involving a semi-truck and hey! - one of them knows Nancy from a few years ago. Our final destination comes in the form of Mary and Richard Schlichting (Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda), Mel's actual parents with an angsty teenage son and a bad habit of lawbreaking.
"Flirting with Disaster" is irreverent in the most giddy of ways, finding its comedy in unusual places, thoroughly appealing and fantastically written. Perhaps Russell should be in charge of more comedies of this sort; humor on a chaotic, human level is much more appetizing than bodily fixated gross-outs. "Flirting with Disaster", dare I say it, is one of the most underrated movies of the 1990s, not necessarily because it's a masterpiece but because it is so often sidelined as an early Russell project instead of a singular, wonderfully amusing film.
So yeah! For the comedy, this movie was a success (if not constantly hilarious), and elevated it a lot. As for the conflicts and character arcs, I thought it was pretty lacking. All the relationship drama felt really forced and unnecessary to me, taking up time when there could've been more comedy. Téa Leoni was funny as a very tightly wound Tina, and Patricia Arquette was funny groaning at all the annoying things Tina would say, but why did it have to turn to an actual love triangle? Each time Mel would suddenly kiss Tina, I was pretty mad, because his marriage to Nancy still seemed pretty strong, even if parenthood got in the way of sex a little.
And then Josh Brolin comes in as Tony, and he was a weird, quirky guy too, contributing a lot of funny moments with his gay marriage to Paul, but they had to go and make him an alternate love interest for Nancy. I would've much preferred if it was just this weird gang of people (Mel, Nancy, Paul, Tony, and Tina) working together to find Mel's parents and experiencing weird hijinks, but the conflict was more boring and forced.
Overall, I'd say I liked this movie, but the silly conflicts and needless relationship drama took away from a lot of the really solid comedy throughout.
It's always good to watch actors earlier work so you can see how far they have come. In this case I chose Ben Stiller who hasn't really changed his style of comedy that much since 1996. His mannerisms and silly face expressions are more or less the same but he's got bigger budgets to play with nowadays so he doesn't have to rely on his performances to much, like in Tropic Thunder and Night At the Museum. Anyway, this movie is about Stiller hunting for his biological parents after his wife gives birth to his son. With the help of his wife and his sexy adoption agency worker, who wants to film the whole event, they start there journey which has its ups and downs. The adoption agency ends up getting Stillers biological parents identify wrong so there journey becomes bigger then they first thought. When he finally tracks down his parents, the situation goes from bad to worse because of his parents weird habits and strange lifestyle. The movie was quite funny in parts but the storyline is extremely far fetched. The young Josh Brolin and his gay partner, played by Richard Jenkins, was quite a weird choice by the director but they played there parts quite well. I've always been a fan of George Segal and I liked the chemistry between Alan Ada and Lily Tomlin but I did lose interest after a while. Anyway, it's light hearted fun which is silly in parts, but watchable. Average!
It's weird seeing Josh Brolin star in a comedy were he is playing a gay role after seeing him in butch movies like Oldboy, No Country For Old Men and Sin City. The movie was made earlier on in his career so I can't blame him for taking on the project. This was also made earlier on in Ben Stillers career and it really does prove that his range is limited because he hasn't progressed as a comedian that much. His films always gross a lot at the box office and with Rentaghost and Zoolander 2 in the pipework, he is still a bankable actor for the big studios. I know a lot of people that are fed up with his movies but I doubt that he will go down the same route as Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy, who find it hard to pull in the big audiences nowadays.Â
Worldwide Gross: $15million
I recommend this movie to people who are into their comedies about a man whose trying to find his biological parents so he can name his newborn baby. 4/10