August 28, 2006
Relative Strangers is such a perfect example of the importance of a good script. Not even the combined might of Danny DeVito, Kathy Burke and Neve (schwing) Campbell, can save this generic and mostly unfunny movie. Comedies about parents haven’t really set things on fire recently. Meet the Parents was okay, Guess Who was acceptable, and Relative Strangers might have kept its head above water by being marginally better than Monster In Law – just.
34 year old conservative vegan Richard Clayton, has his life planned out. His new book is selling well and he’s three weeks away from marrying the gorgeous Ellen. A bombshell is dropped when his parents reveal to him that he is adopted, and that his real parents are redneck hicks, Frank and Agnes Manure. After trailer home disaster, the Manures move in with Richard and Ellen bringing their white trash, circus freak, and unprogressive ways with them and destroying the sanity of the loving couple.
There’s nothing wrong with the acting of Danny DeVito and Kathy Bates who are hilarious, or rather it’s hilarious watching them do their very best with the same old tired jokes and flimsy characters that fail to hit the funny bone. Neve Campbell is an absolute wonder as the only sane one caught in the middle of husband-to-be Ron Livingston and his new outlandish parental units. Relative Strangers rolls in at less than 90 minutes and, apart from casting, is the best decision made on this production, which begs the question how did such a dismal and basic attempt at a comedy, get an all star billing and a deep supporting cast?
At its core are complex issues but are never addressed or supported enough to drive them to the foreground. The premise of unconditional love from your parents being stretched to it limits and human nature’s desire to have it better even when you have it pretty damn good to begin with are all tossed to one side for a vibrator gag. The best scenes come from the dramatic elements and are all saved for the final act and by then it’s just too late to care.
The extras are just a bland and pointless as the film. Including one of the worst trailers ever, with no fluidity and basically telling the entire story, topping up 16mins of rubbishy behind the scenes stuff.