Monday, 4 September 2006

Yours, Mine and Ours (DVD) (2005)

Needs more pratfalls!

A long time ago in 1968, there used to be a comedy called Yours, Mine and Ours. It was an average comedy about a strict navy widower with 10 kids meeting a flaky nurse widow with 8 kids, and marrying each other and their broods. Once the 2 unlikely parents and their families are brought together, everything else that unfolds should be quite predictable: comic scenes laced with mayhem as the very large blended family handles daily chores, shopping, meals, as well as getting into the territory of family squabbles between the children, the clash of parenting styles, and so on. What made a very predictable movie so memorable and worth watching was the presence of Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as the leads.

Cue to 2006. There is a remake of Yours, Mine and Ours, starring Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid. Somehow their characters have been updated for the new millennium in predictable Hollywood fashion, receiving far more glamorous positions and jobs (Quaid plays a navy general and Russo is a fashion designer), swapping the number of kids, but nothing else has changed.

That’s not a flaw in itself, because despite the predictability of the movie, the comedy is likeable, inoffensive, and average family fare. Except there is no rubber-faced Lucille Ball to send the average fare to hysterical heights, no inspired scenes where parents get into really unexpected and wacky situations thanks to their children’s antics. Instead, you get to see Dennis Quaid slip and land his face into gooey, colourful liquid twice, Rene Russo deliver a pratfall once, and a huge pet pig run about the house every few minutes.

You’d expect the standards of comedy writing to increase over time, but what passes for slapstick seems to have deteriorated somewhat, so much so that the 1968 movie can now be accused of having clever and innovative comedy sequences.

So here’s the real problem with the movie: Hollywood has neither the acting talent, writing talent, nor directorial talent to top what was a run-of-the-mill filler comedy from the 1960s. Barely on par with the original, the 2006 remake can barely justify its existence. If you have to rent or watch an utterly inoffensive family comedy, why not just get the original?


A symptom of this degenerate age of filmmaking is the fact that both the director and his scriptwriters have absolutely no clue just how middling, average, close to forgettable, and just half an inch away from bad their film is. You’d either scream with horror or scream in delight as the director and his casting assistants go on and on about how "sparkly" and beautiful the 18 children are. There’s this bit about how Gosnell and the writers had wanted more pratfalls, visual jokes and mayhem in the movie, and were only stopped by the producers. That’s when you keel over in total shock over the fact that studio bureaucrats actually managed to prevent this film from being more banal than it already is.

First published at incinemas on 4 September 2006

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