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Movie Mom

It’s hard to blow a premise like this one — color-in-the-lines, belt-and-suspenders risk averse man meets his daughter’s prospective free spirit father-in-law just before the wedding. It worked pretty well in the 1973 original starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. But this retread with Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas has more misfires than hits.

Brooks plays Jerry, a worrywart of a podiatrist who is obsessively planning every detail of the wedding. Douglas is Steve, some sort of secret agent who may be getting a little old for the job — in the first scene he has to squint a little bit to try to read the confirmation he has just been shown by his contact.

Steve’s case involving an arms dealer and a stolen submarine is concluding just as the wedding approaches, and Jerry gets mixed up in a series of wild adventures that include Barbra Streisand’s jet, parachuting off a skyscraper, and a dip in a hot tub with a high strung international criminal who is having something of a sexual preference meltdown.

It’s always fun to watch Brooks unravel, Douglas gives an appealingly loose performance, and there are a couple of genuinely funny moments. But the film lacks the energy and zaniness of the original.

Parents should know that this movie has some very strong material for a PG-13. This includes crude jokes about the criminal’s homosexual attraction to Jerry and Steve’s ex-wife (Candace Bergan) explaining that she and Steve used to have great “angry sex.” A bridesmaid gets drunk and confesses that she and the groom had sex before he met the bride. There is comic peril and violence and characters are killed.

Families who see this movie might like to recall some of the stories of bringing their own in-laws together for the first time.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and a classic in this genre, the magnificent “Midnight Run” with Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin.

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