Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 14


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,358
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Movie Info

In this bizarre and very black comedy set in 1950s suburbia, Michael Laemle (Bryan Madorsky) comes to suspect that his conventional parents (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt) have a little secret which they have kept from him. Nothing too major -- just that they happen to be cannibals. It seems that Dad has been bringing home some extra meat from his place of work, a mortuary. As the lad grows ever more hysterical, he confesses his suspicions to the school psychologist (Sandy Dennis). She ridicules his notions and even comes to the house to show him how foolish he's being. Instead, she becomes an entree in the next family dinner, as Michael's parents attempt to indoctrinate him into their odd lifestyle.

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Bryan Madorsky
as Michael Laemle
Randy Quaid
as Nick Laemle
Mary Beth Hurt
as Lily Laemle
Sandy Dennis
as Millie Dew
Juno Mills-Cockell
as Sheila Zellner
Kathryn Grody
as Miss Baxter
Deborah Rush
as Mrs. Zellner
Graham Jarvis
as Mr. Zellner
Helen Carscallen
as Grandmother
Warren Van Evera
as Grandfather
Wayne Robson
as Lab Attendant
Uriel Byfield
as Little Boy
Mariah Balaban
as Little Girl
Larry Palef
as Announcer
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Critic Reviews for Parents

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (7)

  • Parents offers a unique horror-comedy experience that, while disliked by critics after its release in 1989, can now certainly be deemed a cult classic.

    Apr 9, 2019 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…
  • The central idea of alienation may be ever present but Balaban doesn't get the tone quite right with direction that's fine scene to scene but cumulatively doesn't generate the necessary thrills to make Parents one to rush out and adopt.

    Feb 19, 2019 | Rating: 6/10 | Full Review…
  • The Oedipal conflict that Parents plays out is timeless, but also very much rooted in its times, with a darkly comic nostalgia that looks both backwards to a Paradise lost and forwards to one perhaps never regained.

    Jul 4, 2015 | Full Review…
  • the movie is an intense comedy about psychological abuse that will repulse as many viewers as it pleases. The only reaction it will likely not instill is nonchalance.

    Jun 15, 2007 | Rating: 0/5
  • Pretty clever thriller that's about half as smart as it thinks it is.

    Mar 29, 2004 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Parents

  • Jul 15, 2012
    "There's A New Name For Terror..." Parents isn't an awful movie by any stretch. It's actually a pretty well made movie if I look at it from just that standpoint. If I look at it from the entertainment and enjoyment aspects of it, it didn't quite hold up. I didn't hate it, but it certainly didn't win me over in the end. It had a fairly interesting concept that kept the film going, but the way the events unfold is obvious, and the end result is less than satisfying. I can say that it was a good try because this could have been terrible, but it wasn't.  Parents centers around a family living in the suburbs during the 1950's. The story is presented in the  way Fido would be. It's a dark comedy, horror movie mix. There's a ten year old boy at the center of the film who is starting to question his parents. There's obviously something off with them and he begins to get bigger and bigger evidence to this effect. He also won't eat his meat, which disappoints his parents because they are huge meat lovers. I was constantly waiting for a Pink Floyd reference about eating your meat, but unfortunately none came.  I will say that the direction by Bob Balaban makes this movie more watchable then I thought it could be. He does a good job balancing the social satire with the creepiness. Also the cast is rather interesting as well. Randy Quaid gives the best performance I've ever seen from him, and I also really enjoyed Mary Beth Hurt's performance as the loving mother as well.  In the end though, all this movie does is present its story in an interesting way. By the end, I was less then enamored with it. Sure it has some good stuff going on, but films like these need a little more to push them over the top and that little bit more was missing here. Plus when you label yourself as a Dark Comedy, then you have to deliver some laughs, and Parents just doesn't. The darkness was certainly there, but the comedy was no where to be seen. It also is labeled as a horror film. Well, it wasn't scary either. So it failed in both respects. Still I can't say not to watch the movie, because I didn't hate it all and I could see people easily being able to enjoy this one.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 19, 2012
    It's not so bad consider it's a low budget satire film about the 50s suburbia, where a family holds a dark secret. I love the camera angles and the different scenes. It was an effective black comedy, however a bit too dark at times. The campiness and cliche really helped with bringing out the comic elements.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Feb 11, 2012
    Quirky little number this, first time I have seen it and I quite liked it :) Came across as a 'Little Shop of Horror's' black gallows humour type of film to me with a slight sprinkle of tension. Its an odd one for sure, Randy Quaid is perfect as 'Dad' with that eerie joker-ish smile of his, Mary Beth Hurt accompanies Quaid well as 'Mum' to make a great kooky couple. The various scenes of eating dinner with close ups of the meat really does make you uncomfortable and your mind swings from judgement to judgement on wether little 'Michael Laemle's' parnets really are serving up human flesh for tea hehe. Personally I could never really make up my mind if the whole thing was a dream or just a little boys crazy imagination, the film plays out quite surreal which keeps you guessing. Being set in the 50's really adds that kind of bizarre yet fun twist to it, almost impossible to think such things could happen in a perfect all American home in the happy 50's. The cute sitcom like soundtrack adds zing, makes the whole thing out to be almost silly, light hearted or even a kids film, truth be told the film gets darker and darker as it goes on yet your never really scared, more intrigued and curious. A real cult oddity which works due to the brilliant performances of all the cast members.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2011
    Parents is a very interesting idea for a horror film. The concept behind this film is very cool. A kid suspects his Parents to be cannibals after he notices big cuts of beef every night for supper on the table. Parents is a blend of Black Comedy and Horror, but after watching this I would lean more towards horror. There are a few funny parts, but it's more horrifying than anything else. What I loved about the film was that it had the look of a family sitcom and the soundtrack was practically a sitcom theme. The film looked great, and was well done. Randy Quaid was solid in his performance and so was Mary Beth Hurt. After viewing Parents, I thought it was a very underrated gem. The thing that I love the most about this film is the concept behind the plot. I thought that idea of cannibalistic parents was a fairly good idea for film. After watching it, I realized how much this film is underrated. Sure, I can understand why the film may not appeal to everyone due to it's plot. But for the horror diehard, Parents is a terrific horror film that delivers good horror and a good story. Parents shouldn't be dismissed and will appeal to horror fans who enjoy something different. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I don't see why this film has gotten the flack it has received, a thoroughly engaging and morbidly fun horror film.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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