Relative Strangers

Director: Greg Gilenna

Fans of Meet the Parents will want to track down this little comedic indie from the creators of the Fockers (and bearing several similarities to those films) in which liberal, vegan, successful self-help author Dr. Richard Clayton (Office Space’s Ron Livingston) learns that his blue blooded conservative parents (Christine Baranski and Edward Herrmann) aren’t his biological parents after all. When he bluntly receives the news the he was adopted from his envious brother (Bob Odenkirk), Livingston hopes for the best, imagining Ed Begley Jr. as a liberal father come true when in reality the parents who show up at his doorstep after a private investigation are none other than The Manures (Kathy Bates and Danny DeVito, again fittingly tagged with an odd name like Focker). The film, based partly on a Second City skit by Gilenna (who co-wrote the film with Peter Stass) was also inspired by the story of a good friend and while it’s a bit predictable and forgettable, the likable cast, including Neve Campbell as Livngston’s fiancĂ© with a crass, white trash mother of her own (Beverly D’Angelo obviously having a ball) seem to have had such a genuinely good time making the film that it’s infectious. Although those of us who have seen the Focker flicks one too many times know exactly where the film is going, DeVito and Bates are quite a pair and there’s a particular scene set around a lively game of charades that had me laughing as hard as I did the first time I saw Meet the Parents.