The Thing About My Folks
Peter Falk is such a likable
actor, such a force of nature, such a seasoned pro that this movie would be
worth watching if for no other reason than the fact that it gives the actor
in his late 70s his meatiest role in years.
Luckily, the movie is worth
watching for several other reasons, though none of them will or could ever
trump Falk's presence. Falk is the best part of a good movie, the glue
that bonds it all together and keeps the little cracks from showing.
The Thing About My Folks
is certainly not an overly original idea; a middle-aged New York writer
(Paul Reiser) who was never too close to his workaholic father (Falk)
rediscovers their bond when his mother (Olympia Dukakis) decides she wants
to separate. This leads to a road trip in which the men gets to know
each other and remember their link by sharing little adventures.
Writer/star Paul Reiser
generously gives Falk's character many of the best jokes, recognizing he is
playing with a legend and giving him lots of space to shine. Reiser has never quite been
able to translate his television fame into a big screen career -- though he
has been a part of some very good films like Diner, Aliens and Bye
Bye Love, the underrated attempt at a star-making vehicle that came at
the height of his Mad About You notoriety. However, this film
suggests a new direction for him, he makes a nicely frustrated straight man.
Reiser's slow burn anger and occasional explosions are made all the more
interesting because they play off of Falk's larger-than-life outbursts.
What they do in the long run
is not too exciting; they fish, buy a classic car, go to a minor-league ball
game, get into a bar fight, meet and flirt with a couple of younger women,
look at a farmhouse and look at the stars. However, these little life
moments seem very realistic and embrace a shared history and mutual respect
and resentment of a lifetime of missed opportunities. It is
interesting to watch them rediscover each other, and to realize that many of
their presumptions about the other had been wrong.
There is a strong supporting
cast here, though they do not get that incredibly much to do; this story is
really all about the two leads. However Elizabeth Perkins is very
likable as Reiser's supportive and intuitive wife. Dukakis does not
show up until late in the film, but she reminds us why she became such a
phenomenon in Moonstruck back in 1988 and makes you wonder why she
does not work more.
Though it starts to get
overly sentimental towards the end, the movie has already won us over by
that point. The Thing About My Folks
is a nice little story told very well.
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Posted: September 12, 2005.