The Thing About My Folks

on September 16, 2005 by Bridget Byrne
The notion of Peter Falk and Paul Reiser playing father and son on an unscheduled road trip where they have time and opportunity to challenge, avoid, and at moments break through generational and familial emotional roadblocks, is clearly a good idea. But unfortunately the thing about "The Thing About My Folks" is that despite some amusing and touching scenes, it is a bit too sitcom-like for its own good. There are times when one half expects a break for a commercial. The scenario doesn't have the innate sophistication of last year's successful road trip movie "Sideways," or that Oscar screenplay winner's ability to transition so neatly from joy to sorrow to flat-out laughs as its characters seek any sort of genuine connection.

Reiser's very chatty riff about well-traveled themes too often oozes sentiment where there could be genuine heartache, and plops for obvious jokes where there could be insightful humor. But that's not to say that this depiction of fractured but abiding love doesn't roll along in a lively way, pleasing at least in its fondness for the oddities of human nature and the push-me-pull-me demands of family life.

Falk is, as usual, entertaining to watch -- his quirks, though familiar, still able after all these years to pop up in surprising ways. But Reiser, playing foil to Falk's strengths, seems a little hamstrung. Olympia Dukakis has the appropriate dignity and charm. But she hasn't been handed the depth of role necessary to make the mother, who appears to have taken a sudden exit from her long marriage, as fully-formed a character as necessary for the story to finally gel with any deep resonance. Starring Peter Falk, Paul Reiser, Olympia Dukakis and Elizabeth Perkins. Directed by Raymond De Felitta. Written by Paul Reiser. Produced by Jeffrey Silver, Bobby Newmyer and Paul Reiser. A Picturehouse release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language including some suggestive references. Running time: 96 min

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