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Friday, September 30, 2011

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 72 - Son In Law (1993)

Pauly Shore makes another appearance on my list in Son in Law, a fish-out-of-water would-be comedy about a crazy Californian who is dragged by a friend to visit her family in middle America for Thanksgiving holiday.  Antics ensue because, guess what?  He’s wacky!  So, we get a ton of predicable farming-themed gags, and a group of characters that are much more sane and stable than the character we’re meant to like more (That would be Shore’s).

When Rebecca (Carla Gugino) leaves her family for college in Los Angeles, she is unsure about whether or not she will fit in until she befriends a “colorful” resident adviser named Crawl (Shore).  When Thanksgiving comes around, feeling sorry that he has no family to go home to, Rebecca invites him home to visit her very conservative family.  Upon her arrival home, her family is shocked by her changed appearance and attitude, and even more shocked by the utterly flamboyant and offensive Crawl who is inept and unlikable from line one.  Things get crazy though (WOOOHOOO!) when Rebecca finds out that her long-time boyfriend is going to purpose and has Crawl stop him.  Crawl, dimly thinking on his toes, says he has already asked for her hand and the family is distraught.  Now the two dimwits must keep the ruse up until vacation is over... For some reason.

Son-in-Law is one of those movies where it’s apparent that the jokes were written before the script.  We get a lot of the gags that we’d expect.  Manure in the face, a mouth full of hay, a silly tractor scene, lots of montages, a dance scene, MULTIPLE makeovers ect, ect, ect.  Most of the set-pieces in this film are taken out of dozens of better movies and, despite closely following a well-defined blueprint, this movie manages to go off the rails.  The big problem is the bulk of the comedy leans on Shore’s bizarre behavior.  Since his antics are annoying, not funny, this movie grows pretty old, pretty quickly.  The fact that everyone else in the movie is normal except Crawl makes you less likely to root for him and more likely to cheer for the boyfriend who just had his heart broken.

Carla Gugino is likable here, but the material is far too weak and her only real job is to get upset and storm out of the room in protest.  The rest of the cast is filled with stock characters and stereotypes.  The parents are played by Lane Smith (that guy from My Cousin Vinny) and Cindy Pickett (Ferris Beuller’s mom) and, like Gugino, are given little to do here.  Their job is to react in horror to Crawl and to show disapproval towards Rebbecca.  I don’t really think the supporting cast is to blame here, though.  This is weak material at its core, filled with predictable moments and stock dialogue, and Shore gives the very same performance he always does, though he is a little more subdued here than he normally is, and that is the problem.  

Pauly Shore, as I have said before (and will likely say again), is not funny.  His voice is annoying, his performances are all garbage and he is incapable of carrying a scene so he just waves his arms around and makes noises like a five year old.  I’m glad he no longer gets top billing (I have a movie that will DEFINITELY show up later to thank for that), but in the 90’s he was the “next big thing”.  I think he is the force that filled the vacuum of the derelict 80’s, a decade that produced more throwaway stars than just about any other.  Shore went to movies after gaining popularity on MTV, and just like everything else that goes to the big screen from MTV, he left a massive stain on cinema.

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