Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bob Balaban|
|Produced by||Mitchell Cannold
|Written by||Christopher Hawthorne|
Mary Beth Hurt
|Music by||Jonathan Elias|
|Edited by||Bill Pankow|
|Great American Films Limited Partnership
|Distributed by||Vestron Pictures|
|Release date(s)||27 January 1989 (USA)|
|Running time||81 min.|
|Box office||$870,532 (USA)|
Ten-year-old Michael Laemle (Bryan Madorsky) has moved with his parents Nick (Randy Quaid) and Lily (Mary Beth Hurt) to a new neighborhood in 1954 suburbia Massachusetts. As Michael is very socially awkward and also has an overly active imagination, he has trouble making friends at school. He is also prone to extremely weird dreams, such as dreaming that he has jumped into bed- only for it to collapse into a pool of blood.
Emotionally distraught from the move and the dreams, Michael is traumatized by accidentally viewing his parents having sex (he believes that he is seeing them biting into one another) and by viewing his father cutting into a corpse as part of his job as a mortician. As time progresses, Michael begins to find evidence that his parents are cannibals, such as Michael discovering body parts hanging on a meat hook in the basement. This seems to convince Michael that what he is seeing is true, much to the chagrin of his school guidance counselor Millie Dew (Sandy Dennis). One afternoon Millie goes home with Michael in order to convince him that he is imagining everything, only for the two of them to find a corpse in the basement. Michael runs up to his room and locks himself in while Millie is found and killed by Nick and Lily.
Later that evening they try to feed Michael human remains but he fights back and manages to stab his father in the shoulder. Nick then tries to kill Michael, only for Lily to try to protect Michael and die in the process. Michael is then chased around the house by his father, who accidentally runs into a gas line due to his injuries. Nick breaks the gas line and then runs into a shelf of wine bottles, which he pulls down onto him and presumably dies. As gas fills the room, Michael has barely enough time to escape before the gas ignites and blows up the house.
The film ends with Michael's grandparents assuming his care. After placing him to bed, Michael's grandfather leaves him a midnight snack consisting of a glass of milk and a suspicious looking sandwich, implying his parents cannibalism was learned behavior.
- Randy Quaid as Nick Laemle
- Mary Beth Hurt as Lily Laemle
- Sandy Dennis as Millie Dew
- Bryan Madorsky as Michael Laemle
- Juno Mills-Cockell as Sheila Zellner
- Kathryn Grody as Miss Baxter
- Deborah Rush as Mrs. Zellner
- Graham Jarvis as Mr. Zellner
- Helen Carscallen as Grandmother
- Warren Van Evera as Grandfather
- Wayne Robson as Lab Attendant
Parents had an estimated budget of $3,000,000, according to the Internet Movie Database, but grossed only $870,532 in the United States. Since its initial box office failure, however, the film has developed a cult following on home video.
The film received mixed to negative response from critics, with criticism mainly aimed at the film's tone. It currently holds a 45% 'rotten' rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on eleven reviews.
The film was released on DVD on 25 May 1999 in its unmatted full screen format. The original DVD went out of print for a brief period of time before the film was re-released in the DVD format as a double feature with the film Fear, presented for the first time in widescreen since its original theatrical release.
- James, Caryn (January 27, 1989). "Review/Film; Dubious Housekeeping In Balaban's 'Parents'". The New York Times.
- "Parents (1989) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
- "Parents - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 August 2012.