Wednesday, June 03, 2009

5/28/09: Folks! (1992)

There may be, I suppose, a way to construct a comedy around the subject of dementia. I've never seen it done successfully, but I don't entirely discount the possibility, unlikely as it seems—just as a comedy with jokes about rape would be difficult to imagine. But if there were a man to attempt it, Robert Klane is unquestionably that man.

Klane is the author of various black-comedy films, starting with 1970's Where's Poppa?, about a man torn between taking care of his aging mother and bumping her off. Klane is clearly a man with major parental issues, for the identical theme (with a similarly punctuated title) resurfaces in Folks!, about a man torn between taking care of his aging parents and bumping them off. (Klane also wrote one of the blackest of black comedies, Weekend at Bernie's, about a couple of guys carrying around a corpse.)

Folks! features a tragically mustache-free Tom Selleck as a stockbroker whose life goes directly into the toilet when he starts to care for his elderly parents, who have various physical and mental problems. Nearly all of the humor in the film derives from the series of mishaps that Selleck suffers during his new role as caretaker (he loses his family, his job, even a toe and a testicle, although I missed his mustache the most) and the fact that his father (Don Ameche) has Alzheimer's, which leads to the "hilarious" burning down of his own house.

Whether this material could have been amusing in the hands of a different crew, or whether it was doomed to failure because of the subject matter, I honestly don't know, but Folks! is unbearably excruciating from beginning to end. (I might have chuckled once accidentally.) There's a scene toward the end of the movie where Selleck, hoping that his suicidal parents will die in a horrible car accident, knowingly sends them out on the highway—giving no thought to how this might affect, for example, other drivers carrying small children in their vehicles. And he's the hero of this film! Folks! is mean-spirited and jarringly unfunny—easily among the worst movies I have seen all year, or ever. Rating: 1/5.

1 comment:

Joan said...

I haven't seen this movie so I can't judge for myself, but, from your write-up, I'm curious... Does Merf think this is a good movie, or was she punishing you for something?