Flirting With Disaster (1996)

Is it a good idea to go and find your real parents, if your adopted? This film thinks so.

Impending fatherhood sends once-adopted Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller) on a quest to find his birth parents. With his exasperated wife, Nancy (Patricia Arquette), and screwy, seductive social worker Tina (Tea Leoni) in tow, Mel’s cross-country expedition isn’t about to go smoothly. Still, between false starts, risky flirting and the FBI, Mel just may find what he’s looking for … at the risk of losing his marbles!

So with The Fighter coming out, I thought I would check up on an earlier film, from director David O. Russell. Not many people know this film, hell, not many people know David O. Russell, but I hope they soon do, cause he has got some real talent.

My favorite thing about this film was its screenplay. The screenplay focuses on a lot of  conventional themes such as sex, marriage, and family. But the way the off-beat movie handles all those situations, just makes you laugh, as well as smile at the same time. There are sure to be plenty of gags that will have you laughing, but the fact that how goofy this is, makes you laugh even more, cause you know that this is how life really is sometimes. Life is full of plenty surprises, good and bad, we just can’t take them for granted, and keep moving on.

My main problem with this film was that I still don’t think David O. Russell took his film that serious, and got pretty carried away with his material. There were many moments in this film that could have been very heart-felt, and helped a lot with the story, but instead just keeps on being goofy, and random. In my opinion, this actually took away from the film, and takes away any idea of actually being a film that means something more than just a dirty comedy. I also felt like a lot of the random sex scenes, and just sexual things happening, were really smug. But they didn’t bother me as much.

Ben Stiller gives a very good performance, in one of his earliest roles, playing that quirky, straight-laced dude we all know him for today. When people think of the crap that Stiller does now, they should look back on this film, and realize that he can actually be funny, he just needs the right script. Patricia Arquette is also strong in this film, showing the emotional, and physical problems that a wife can go through. Tea Leoni is very funny, as well as sexy, as I always find her. Josh Brolin and Richard Jenkins show up, as a two gay cops, and just have us laugh almost every single scene. There are also funny, quirky roles played by Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda, and Lily Tomlin, which add even more comedy to this film.

Consensus: The direction may not be the best for this material, but Flirting With Disaster boasts great performances, and an amazing screenplay that will have you laughing, even though it may be a little bit too goofy.



  1. I think I’ve probably skipped this because of my general disdain for a lot of what Ben Stiller does, but now I am intrigued…. I think a trip to find this at the video store might be in order.
    Great review, Dan!

  2. This movie is brillant for my money. One of the best romantic comedies I have seen. Richard Jenkin is worth the price od admission alone and Ben Stiller is actually playing to material that meets his talents instead of that limp mainstream stuff he does these days.

    David O. Russell has another film coming up called the Silver Lining Playbook and the script is brillant and in the same vein of offbeat comedy as this one but about a completely different subject.

    Good review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s