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Overall Rating
3.58

Awesome: 25%
Worth A Look: 25%
Average33.33%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 12 user ratings


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Thing About My Folks, The
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by Aaron West

"Could have been a good father/son movie, but talks itself out of our hearts"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL. These days Paul Reiser is looking to redirect his career. His hit show “Mad About You” has been off the air nearly 6 years. Since then he’s done two feature films you probably haven’t heard of, two TV movies you probably haven’t heard of, plus he’s hosted a PBS special that you probably didn’t see. Yet, you can’t call him a has-been, or washed up. He’s a man of many talents, having done some serious acting work in the 80s, written some books on parenthood in the 90s, and of course he has that standup comedy background. Now he’s utilizing all of those talents by writing, producing and acting in an independent family comedy/drama, “The Thing About My Folks.” It sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it? Almost, Paul, but not quite,

Reiser plays the lead character, Sam Kleinman, a struggling writer and family man. His quirky and incorrigible father (Peter Falk) appears at Sam’s door, helpless when his wife leaves him by posting a note on their refrigerator door. Sam takes his father out with him to look at a house in the country, hoping to distract him from his woes and also give his sisters time to locate their wayward mother. At first his father is so much that Sam can barely keep his sanity, but after their car breaks down they decide to buy a restored classic car and tour the country like a father/son Thelma & Louise. They both take the road to personal discovery through a series of discussions beginning with the aging Kleinman’s relationship woes, which brings out conflicts within their own relationship.

Other comedians-turned-TV-actors have tried their hand at a film career, some with varying success. On one end of the spectrum, there’s Ray Romano’s Welcome to Mooseport, (the low point), and on the other there’s Tim Allen and his Santa Clause movies, Buzz Lightyear, and Galaxy Quest. Allen may have forged a movie career for himself, but he did so at the mainstream level. Reiser is rushing out of the gate into pure indie territory, trying his acting chops on a serious, character driven family drama. I know Reiser has more acting talent than both those guys (proven with Diner and Aliens, long before his TV career), but he’s trying to do a little too much, a little too soon. He mostly plays a variation of himself in this movie, a character similar to what he’s played on TV. He doesn’t exactly do a bad job, but he’s not strong enough to carry this type of picture through its more dramatic moments.

There’s a lot of talking in this movie, too much maybe, between the father and the son. They go back, they go forth, they bicker, they argue, they try to get the conversational upper hand by talking louder than each other. At first it works well. It seems naturalistic and establishes the divide in their relationship, yet shows that they are somewhat alike. Eventually it gets completely out of hand and hard to follow, tiresome even. There’s one lengthy scene where the pair have dinner with a couple of women, but they forget their guests and begin bickering at each other for somewhere around 5 minutes. At one point, the women conveniently make their exit, claiming the need to go to the bathroom. Immediately I knew they were gone, and I understood. I wanted to make a similar excuse, just to rid myself of it. That scene turned out to be pivotal, as it results in a disagreement, but the dialog is so unfocused that it has a minimized impact, and almost could have been missed altogether.

When the two aren’t arguing, some genuine character moments make their way to the screen. It may be sappy and manipulative, but at times it’s effective, simply because it’s easy to relate to someone coming to terms with their family, and subsequently themselves. I enjoyed the ending and wanted to retroactively enjoy the rest, but I was flat out suffering and bored to tears for half the film.

“The Thing About My Folks” has some touching moments and tiptoes around a strong, emotional theme, but loses itself with wooden acting and tedious dialog. With a different actor in the lead and fewer conversation scenes, this could have been a picture perfect depiction of a man’s self-discovery.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11484&reviewer=403
originally posted: 06/22/05 09:43:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. For more in the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/19/09 Dina Ending too sentimental, still a cute movie worth a viewing 4 stars
4/10/06 P.Bhave A movie about issues that so many of us can relate to. 5 stars
9/27/05 Aimee You could do alot worse 4 stars
8/27/05 Miss Barb Road trip comedy with both laughter & tears 5 stars
8/27/05 Ili Funny & Endearing. A MUST SEE! 5 stars
6/29/05 Pat G. Real and wonderful 5 stars
6/08/05 B.Blackbrain Heartwarming and hilarious 5 stars
3/22/05 Cheri What a wonderful heartwarming movie!! 5 stars
3/17/05 Steve K Big Paul Reiser fan, it's great 5 stars
2/28/05 DIANA JOHNSON I HAVE MANY FRIENDS WHO ARE WAITING (HOPEFULLY) TO SEE THIS. 5 stars
1/30/05 R. Landry Very enjoyable and funny 4 stars
1/29/05 Linda Hart Best movie I've seen in years 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Sep-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Feb-2006

UK
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