Flirting with Disaster (1996)

Is forced hilarity hilarious?  That's the question to ponder while 
watching (enduring?) this edgy romantic comedy from SPANKING THE 
MONKEY director David O. Russell.  Nothing is particularly relaxed 
(or sacred) about this story of a young married man (Ben Stiller) 
who drags his wife (Patricia Arquette), his baby, and his adoption-
agency contact (Tea Leoni) on a cross-country search for his 
biological parents.  The dialogue, the characters, even the camera 
work itself is frantic.  Too frantic.  The humor, like everything 
else about the movie, ends up feeling forced.  Sure, the presence 
of such seasoned supporting players as Mary Tyler Moore and George 
Segal (and Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda) is nice.  As is the film's 
very frank sense of sexuality.  (The subject of fellatio is, ah, a 
running gag.)  Most of it, though, just isn't very funny.  FLIRTING 
WITH DISASTER, *indeed*.  (Rated "R"/90 min.)

Grade: C

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: April 14, 1996

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