Parents (film)

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Parents
Parents.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bob Balaban
Produced by
  • Mitchell Cannold
  • Bonnie Palef
  • Steven Reuther
Written by Christopher Hawthorne
Starring
Music by Jonathan Elias
Edited by Bill Pankow
Production
company
Distributed by Vestron Pictures
Release dates
  • January 27, 1989 (1989-01-27) (US)
Running time
81 minutes
Country
  • Canada
  • United States
Language English
Budget $3 million[1]
Box office $870,532 (US)[1]

Parents is a 1989 American black comedy horror film directed by Bob Balaban and written by Christopher Hawthorne. It stars Randy Quaid, Mary Beth Hurt, Sandy Dennis and Bryan Madorsky.

Plot[edit]

Ten-year-old Michael Laemle has moved with his parents Nick and Lily from Massachusetts to a new neighborhood in 1954 suburbia. 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 in the Division of Human Testing at Toxico, where Nick is developing a chemical defoliant (like Agent Orange) for use in jungles. As time progresses, Michael begins to suspect that his parents are cannibals, after he discovers (or dreams that he discovers) body parts hanging on a meat hook in the basement. Michael is convinced that what he has seen is true, much to the chagrin of his school guidance counselor Millie Dew. 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 while Millie, hiding in the pantry, is found and killed.

When Nick and Lily arrive home, Michael attacks his father. Later that evening Nick and Lily try to feed Michael (possibly human) meat 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 injured 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 perhaps that his parents' cannibalism was learned behavior.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Parents was filmed in Totonto, Ontario, Canada.[2]

Release[edit]

Parents grossed $870,532 in the US on a budget of $3 million.[1]

Home Media[edit]

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.

Reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 45% of eleven surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 4.8/10.[3] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated it 2/4 stars and said that the film's tone never satisfyingly settles on satire, comedy, or horror.[4] Variety wrote, "There is not enough weight or complexity to the material to justify the serious approach, and while the potential for considerable black comedy exists, Balaban only scratches the surface. The laughs never come."[2] Caryn James of The New York Times wrote, "Parents is not worth going out of your way to see. But its slight, silly satisfactions will probably look bigger on video, especially if you're in a mindless, undemanding mood."[5] Writing for The Washington Post, both Hal Hinson and Desson Howe called it a flawed but impressive debut.[6][7] Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Parents looks like the work of bright, well-intentioned people who've seen a lot of vacuous, predictable horror movies and become convinced that they could make a vacuous, predictable horror movie, too—with a sociological point."[8]

The film has since developed a cult following.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Parents". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Review: 'Parents'". Variety. 1989. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Parents - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 7, 1989). "Parents". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ James, Caryn (January 27, 1989). "Review/Film; Dubious Housekeeping In Balaban's 'Parents'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ Hinson, Hal (March 17, 1989). "'Parents' (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ Howe, Desson (March 17, 1989). "'Parents' (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  8. ^ Wilmington, Michael (January 27, 1989). "MOVIE REVIEW : Two Perfect 'Parents,' Despite the Script". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  9. ^ Denby, David (April 17, 1995). "Movies". New York 28 (16): 128. 

External links[edit]