Thursday, September 11, 2008

Son-In-Law (1993)

“Middle America…rippin’ the fields. A-hoo! A-hoo!”

Title: Son-In-Law
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1993
Rated: PG -13

StarringPauly Shore as CrawlCarla Gugino as Rebecca WarnerLane Smith as Walter WarnerCindy Pickett as Connie Warner
A drastically changed farm girl returns home from college for Thanksgiving with her flamboyant party animal best friend whom she pretends to be engaged to to ward off her high school boyfriend.

Tagline: He’s a relative nightmare.

First Viewing: Grandma’s house, some time in the mid-90’s
Added to The List: 2006 (Freshman year of college)

When I started this blog yesterday, I had one major fear concerning it and that was to draw a film I had recently watched. My fear came true. It was a mere two weeks ago that I popped Son-In-Law into the DVD player after boredom overtook me. And just now, I had to force myself to watch it again. Don’t get me wrong; I love this movie. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing about it. But it’s not one of those I-can-watch-it-every-two-weeks kind of movies. It’s more of a I’m-bored-and-need-a-chuckle-on-a-rainy-day kind of movie. I promised I’m not ragging on Son-In-Law. I believe My List needs movies that serve the rainy day boredom purpose and this one does so flawlessly.

was one of those movies my Grandma bought at a yard sale. She didn’t know what it was about or that it involved Pauly Shore. She didn’t know who Pauly Shore was. But it seemed like a fun movie for the grandkids, and so, this delightful comedy stamped itself in my childhood. I guess that dates me. I was, in fact, only five years old when this hilarious gem graced silver screens across the nation. Son-in-Law was comfortably sandwiched between buddy comedies Encino Man and In the Army Now, which I sadly missed along with the rest of the Pauly Shore craze.

It wasn’t until college when I fully began to appreciate this movie. When I made my great transition (from a small town in Washington to another small town in Montana) I didn’t change at all compared to Rebecca. This South Dakota small town girl finds herself living in a lonely world of southern California. But the eccentric Crawl takes her under his wing, hoping that, with his help, she will become happier in her surroundings. And then Rebecca goes “wild.” She buys some “weasel wear!” She cuts and dyes her hair! She even gets a tattoo! Of a butterfly! Scandalous.
When Rebecca returns home for Thanksgiving Break, her conservative family is shocked by the change and even more shocked by her wild and curious friend. Her boyfriend, Travis, is uneasy. He later proposes to Rebecca, causing Crawl to step in and say that he’s already asked Rebecca to marry him. And then the hilarity ensues as Crawl tries to adjust to the farm life.
Travis, playing the pitiful role of the wronged man, tries to take his vengeance on Crawl by arranging a fake bachelor party. With his accomplice, Theo, Travis drugs Crawl and Tracy, the town tramp/amateur exotic dancer (with whom he’s been having an affair with all through Rebecca’s absence). The two men then place them in the barn, making it look like they had a night of passionate, drunken sex. Rebecca finds out, thus breaking her fake engagement and leaving her free to be pursued by Travis. But by the end of the film, both Travis and Theo are revealed as the scumbags they are.

In this movie, we learn two very important lessons: Guys who wear their varsity jackets after high school are douche bags. And fat guys with mullets aren’t to be trusted.
What I don’t get is why doesn’t Rebecca just tell her parents that she doesn’t want to marry Travis? Wouldn’t her parents understand? As far as I can tell from my many viewings of this film, her parents aren’t in love with Travis. Sure, they like him, but I would imagine they feel there could be someone else. I realize that without this conflict, there would be no story, and without the story, there would be no movie and then no blog about it. So maybe I should just shut up.

One of the things I really like about Son-In-Law is that Crawl and Rebecca are actually just friends. It isn’t until much later in the film that there’s even a hint of mutual attraction. This is in the form of an almost kissing scene which is interrupted by Rebecca’s grandfather. By the end of the movie, we’re not sure if Crawl and Rebecca will continue to be “just friends” or if they’re really putting their engagement “on hold.” I like it this way, believe it or not.
All in all, Son-In-Law makes the list because it is funny, part of my childhood, and not (entirely) formulaic. Plus, I can point to it and say “See? Not every movie I like has a strong romantic subplot!” I do know one thing for sure, I won’t be watching it any time soon. Well…not until another boring rainy day.

Favorite Screencap

“Excuse me, I can’t hear you!”

P.S. I have this shirt.

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