Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Thing About My Folks

THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS (Raymond De Felitta, 2005)

Father and son Sam and Ben Kleinman (Peter Falk and Paul Reiser) reconnect during a difficult patch in Sam’s life in THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS. Sam’s longtime wife Muriel (Olympia Dukakis) leaves him unexpectedly. The whole family is surprised, and with little information as to her whereabouts, they grapple with what may have led to her departure. As a diversion Ben takes his father along on a visit to a country house he is considering buying. Their trip gets stretched into a tour of upstate New York in which the two men reach the understanding and reconciliation they have needed.

Reiser has written observational humor books about married life and new parenthood. He extends such musings to the screen with this likable but bland comedy. THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS contains more sap than a Vermont maple. Essentially a feature-length sitcom episode with a few TV-unfriendly curse words, the film is as nice and tame as it is boring and unremarkable. Falk’s recurring flatulence is about as ribald as THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS gets.

Reiser reinforces his amiable mensch persona, and Falk blusters his way through the picture. Both labor intensely to bring life to a film with a faint pulse. The flat, washed out cinematography fails to capture the natural beauty of the upstate New York scenery. Visually this is a hideous film. THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS is concocted for those seeking inoffensive fare, as long as they don’t choke on its sickly sweetness.

Grade: C-

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