18 March 2013 | secondtake
A man stumbles and bumbles his way to his zany biological parents...screwball almost!
Flirting with Disaster (1996)
This is one of those movies that's just plain stupid in such a funny way you'll likely laugh out loud a lot. And you'll finish thinking it's a pretty stupid movie. The ending in particular makes you wonder what all the build up was about since it diffuses, as if the writers ran out of conflicts (or solutions) and raised their hands in surrender.
But on the way there is one funny gag after another. And a whole slew of excellent actors doing their zany best. Some of them have very brief (and contained) appearances, for sure--Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda, for example, in a hilarious section of the movie with little connection to the rest of it. In fact, the whole movie is broken into spasmodic sections, held together mostly by the three leading leads (there are lots of main characters): Ben Stiller (looking for his biological parents), Patricia Arquette (his suffering, sweet wife), and Tea Leoni (the mentally incomplete but skinny and sexy interloper).
Stiller isn't actually totally funny by himself, but acts like more of a foil for all the crazy things happening around him (this is his style on purpose, a kind of regular guy in an irregular world). Arquette is almost too normal for this abnormal world, but that's fine, she's likable, and is meant to be the loving wife who doesn't quite know how zany the events around her are. At first. Leoni has a terrific way of making nutty faces and being just slightly insane without being just stupid (the way Will Ferrell is just stupid in a different kind of humor).
There are gay jokes and jokes about LSD and a general playing of an ultra-licentious world against what seems to be a normal human desire to connect with your genetic parents, unknown to you. The mistakes along the way are what make it hilarious. Until the end, where it maybe is trying to say, "Oh well, everything is okay in a world where anything goes." Sure. Pop the big bubble, but on the way it's a gas. No pun intended.