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The In-Laws(Directed by Andrew Fleming, Warner Bros., opens May 23)A walking-talking affront to every middle-class middle-ager it intends to sucker, this remake of the 1979 accidental-classic screwball hits every wrong note and trips on every chair leg. The brut, atomic-clock-timed electricity between Alan Arkin and Peter Falk has been supplanted by the stylistic clash between a shamefully impish Michael Douglas (as the wacky CIA rogue) and a constipated Albert Brooks (as the guileless podiatrist embroiled in espionage). The pinpoint-Borschty dialogue is swapped for one-liners that wouldn't make it past a first-round meeting of the King of Queens writing staff. The marriage of the protagonists' offspring is not just the kooky setup but the motivation behind last-act, be-a-better-dad sentimentality. Worst of all, director Andrew Fleming takes the story's macguffin seriously: Whereas Falk's skullduggerer was just as farcical as the spy system he claimed to work for, Douglas's spook is Bruckheimer-blockbuster serious, with chases and technogadgets and everything. (I missed Richard Libertini, but who wouldn't?) Even David Suchet, stuck playing a mincing French arms dealer, cannot save his scenes, which splat like dropped eggs. The preview audience was only roused—to pained moanings—by charging waves wiping out an elaborately catered wedding buffet. —Michael Atkinson


That's My Face(Directed by Thomas Allen Harris, May 23 through 29, at BAMcinématek) Harris's first-person doc undertakes an impressionistic meditation on diaspora and identity, paganism and Christianity, skin color and double vision. Silent Super-8 footage is set to a doleful Vernon Reid score, while disembodied voices narrate, reminisce, and poeticize. Faded home movies conjure a Bronx childhood and a formative pre-adolescence in Tanzania—prelude to the adult Harris's roots quest, which takes him to Salvador da Bahia. In this Brazilian city, he encounters ever more complex notions of blackness, along with a variety of heathen rites that would have horrified his devout Christian grandparents, eventually graduating from touristic voyeurism to spiritual equilibrium. The movie might test your tolerance for the mystical, but its whispery vagueness is of a piece with the luxuriantly grainy atmospherics. —Dennis Lim

 
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