Son in Law, by Albert W. Vogt III

There are a couple of movies that, to be brutally honest, I have been avoiding. They are Pauly Shore movies. I did not get his humor when I was a teenager, and I still do not get it today. Wait. What I really mean is . . . HE HAS NEVER BEEN FUNNY! For Son in Law (1993), the first of them I chose to look at, I was almost lulled into a false sense of security. He is nowhere to be found in the first fifteen minutes or so of the film. Since it is only an hour and half long, a quarter of an hour is a significant amount of the run time. But no. Two seconds into when he first appears, after only uttering a couple words, I was already annoyed. Watching this movie was painful. If I were a spy and I was caught by another country, they could get me to tell them whatever they wanted by putting it on and forcing my eyes to remain open. As it was, I sat through it literally moaning in agony whenever he did anything.

As I said, I was slightly misled at the outset of Son in Law. Rebecca Warner (Carla Gugino) graduates from high school in rural South Dakota. Instead of going to a state college as her parents hope, she elects to go away to Los Angeles for school. Not only are they slightly concerned, but so is her boyfriend, Travis (Dan Gauthier). She assures him that nothing will change, and that they can renew their romance whenever she came home during holidays and breaks. Nothing would have changed either had it not been for Crawl (Pauly Shore). Writing that name made my skin crawl, and I had to resist the urge to add in a curse word. At one point, Rebecca is having difficulty adjusting to the lifestyle of a freshman far from home and in a new and completely different environment. During a Halloween party in the dorm, she is about to call home and quit when she is accosted by Crawl dressed as the Chiquita Banana woman. I am sure there is a criticism to be made there about cultural appropriation, but I shall mush on. He annoyingly convinces her to say, thus dragging the movie on and on and on. Not only that, but once under his spell (or, more likely, drugs) she decides to chuck the wholesome farm girl look in favor of the trendy Los Angeles style. She cuts and dies her hair. She gets a tattoo. She starts going to bars where there are women mud wrestling. These acts, and others, are all done while hanging out with Crawl. Since they have frustratingly started up a relationship, she unfortunately invites him home for Thanksgiving. When she lands, her parents and Travis are there to greet her and all are shocked by this new woman that steps off the plane. Also, side note, but there is no way that is November in South Dakota. At any rate, adding to the surprise is FRICKIN’ Crawl. So while they have to deal with Rebecca calling mom Connie (Cindy Pickett) and dad Walter (Lane Smith), their first names, they also have to put up with Crawl’s ridiculous antics. In case you have not figured it out by now, it is a story about newer, flashier culture meeting traditional, Midwestern values. Put them together and hilarity ensues. At least that is the theory. If my cries of agony were an indication of mirth, then this is the funniest movie ever! Anyway, Rebecca’s newfound freedom (truly, for lack of a better word) means that she does not want to marry Travis, who proposes on the day she gets back from school. Because she does not have any good reason not to accept his proposal (which is completely obvious to this reviewer), Crawl announces that he and Rebecca are engaged. Hence we have to sit through the next forty-five minutes or so as Crawl weasels his way into the good graces of the Warner family by forcing them all to act more like him, instead of being a humble guest in their house. Haha, let the weird dude do farm chores. Haha, he catches Connie getting out of the shower and tells her she is gorgeous (talk about awkward). Haha, Travis punches Crawl and decks him in one blow. Actually, that is the best part of the film. It all leads to Rebecca and Crawl finally revealing that they are not engaged. Instead, they are going to take a step back and see where it goes. One can only hope that (since it is thankfully not filmed) she comes to her senses and leaves the guy who has been in college as an undergrad for six years.

Watching Son in Law made me think some very un-Christian thoughts. This was underscored when I let out a cheer as Crawl hit the floor from Travis straight jab to the nose. He started crying, too. If you were to look at the notes I took while watching the film, you will see things like, “Please let him be beaten savagely by a woman.” Why? Because he acted like an idiot with women, objectifying them at every moment. Then, “Please let him be gored by a bull.” Why? Because he made a stereotypical joke about people living in the country and inbreeding. That is not funny. That is downright insulting. Also, “Please let him get beaten up by the kid from The Sandlot (1993).” Why? Because Rebecca’s little brother Zack (Patrick Renna) is the kid who played the catcher in the better of the two movies (hint: not Son in Law). Okay, this last one is purely personal as that would actually be funny to see happen. I was pleased, though, when Crawl was peed upon by a cow. So that was something. On top of all this, there are moments where Crawl fat shames people and makes fun of people on food stamps. I get what the movie is going for thematically. The Warner family is some kind of square group of people and their acceptance of Crawl is a message of tolerance. What we do not need is Pauly Shore providing the moral high ground. I will take my morality from my Faith, thank you very much, and pray for forgiveness for the awful things I say about Pauly Shore. He really is the worst.

At this point in my reviews I usually make my final recommendation. You can probably guess where this is going. Do not see Son in Law.


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