The strangest thing about writer-star Paul Reiser’s ode to adult children dealing with their parents’ marriage is the way that sad, complicated truths occasionally emerge from a morass of shtick, sentiment, exposition, and cruddy digital photography. Ben Kleinman (Reiser) takes father Sam (Peter Falk, taking to old-man-isms with his usual distressing glee) on a road trip after Sam’s wife (Olympia Dukakis) unexpectedly splits.
The strengths and failings of this marriage, as related in dialogue by father and son, often ring familiar and true; Ben thinks his father neglected the family while Sam argues that he was providing for them, and of course no one’s ever bothered to mention these grievances until now. To Reiser’s credit, the screenplay doesn’t seem to take sides, but it eventually backs away from any true messiness.
It’s as if Reiser believes those with happy families will feel left out if he doesn’t give them something to identify with. This blandness fits in with Reiser’s comic persona, so eager to ply you with relatable observational humor that he forgets to make any real observations.
Opens September 16