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Parents (1989)

Reviewed on 2010 February 27

Offbeat little horror comedy about a young boy that wonders exactly where his nice suburban parents get their barbecue.

Michael Laemle (Bryan Madorsky) should ostensibly be a happy kid: it’s 1950s suburbia, and on the surface the biggest concern of most Americans would seem to be whether to garnish their martini with an olive or Gibson it with one of those to-die-for little onions. His parents, Nick and Lily (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt), seem to adore him and they live in a very nice house. Daddy’s job in Toxico is really going places. Yet Michael can’t shake his nightmares or bring himself to eat much at the family dinner table, which attests to their financial success. Every night Nick opens a nice bottle of wine, and Lily spreads their midcentury modern dining table with more cuts of meat than an A&P. When Michael asks where it comes from his parents just laugh his fears off, but he knows there’s something wrong.

The plot is very simple, but this still works on several levels, one just being the primal scream of my arteries at the sight of all that stuff no matter what its origin. It serves nicely as a metaphor for both the superficiality of the ’50s and the often terrifying confusion that we all felt as children in an adult world, as well as a straight black comedy horror film. Detail junkies will love the props; I was coveting the midcentury modern house myself. Even the music was well-chosen, with a very raucous “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” playing sarcastically over the opening credits. The acting is good too, from intense to deadpan, and the deadpan stuff carries over to the very end.

Two chocolate morsels, and a veggie platter.

Shukti

morsel morsel

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