1993 Directed by Steve Rash. Starring Pauly Shore, Carla Gugino, Lane Smith, Cindy Pickett, Mason Adams, Patrick Renna, Dennis Burkley.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., July 2, 1993
Son-in-Law's only real surprise is that it's so much better than it has to be. Of course, you have to be expecting the worst in order to be pleasantly surprised. And the surprise is not really all that pleasant when you come to think of it. With Son-in-Law, Shore seems to be making a conscious effort to move beyond his MTV/stand-up, cooler-than-cool, irritatingly obnoxious and lascivious persona. There are moments here in which Shore actually behaves like a recognizable human being with some semblance of feelings, emotions and conscience. Happily, his acting skills are adequate to the task. He is helped in this regard by the able cast members supporting him who, once again (and I hate to keep harping on this but), are all so much better than they need to be. Because, let's face it, this was designed solely as a Pauly Shore vehicle, to cash in on the success of Encino Man and, at that level, it doesn't have to do anything other than deliver the goods. Six people are credited with developing this story and writing the screenplay, not usually a sign of fluid conceptualization. Yet, this fish-out-of-water story works (better than it has to). The story involves UCLA wacko (Shore) accompanying freshman farmer's daughter (Gugino) home to South Dakota during Thanksgiving vacation. There, this personification of every parent's nightmare gets to goof on Middle America and do things like drive combines, milk cows, slop pigs and gross out the country club. It's a bunch of comic riffs carefully strung together as a story. Director Rash (The Buddy Holly Story, Can't Buy Me Love, Queens Logic) admirably maintains a governing unity over all these potentially tangential riffs. Such competence in execution should be enough to ensure Son-in-Law a reasonable success amongst its target audience. Nevertheless, to be merely better than you need to be is little more than a modest accomplishment. Then again, modesty would be an accomplishment for Shore. So if your life is incomplete without the sight of Pauly Shore milking a cow, include Son-in-Law in your “to do” list. E-I-E-I-O, dude.