THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS
Great Insights, Bad Language
Release Date: September 16, 2005
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 94 minutes
Director: Raymond De Felitta
Writer: Paul Reiser
Address Comments To:Bob Berney, President
597 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 303-1700
Fax: (212) 421-1163
THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS opens up with the grandfather, Sam, suddenly showing up at his son's home. After 50 years, Sam’s wife has left him and has not told anyone where she went. The son, Ben, who has two adorable daughters, is going out of town the next day to look for a farm house just beyond the suburbs. He takes his father Sam, played brilliantly by Peter Falk, with him. Meanwhile, Ben's three sisters try to find their grandmother.
While driving, he shares with Sam a letter he found from his mother to Sam written two weeks before he was born 50 years ago. This letter indicates that the mother had turned off emotionally to her marriage and that Sam was insensitive. Sam protests, so the argument gets heated, and they run their car into a tree.
They are towed to a small town in upstate New York and buy a 1940 Ford Deluxe. For the next two days, they do all those things that fathers and sons are supposed to do together, such as going fishing, picking peaches, and camping out. Two women try to pick them up, but Sam insists there's only one woman in his life. A pool shark takes advantage of them, but Sam soundly beats him not only in a game but also in a barroom brawl.
In some brilliant dialogue, Sam helps Ben to understand that people are who they are, they have their faults, and they do their best…and, he apologizes. When the grandmother turns up, she's in the hospital, and Ben's perception of everything is turned inside out.
Since the movie I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER, THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS may be the best insight into the facts of family relationships. It has a clearly developed moral worldview. The grandfather was faithful to his wife and worked hard to provide for his family. He failed to meet the expectations of Ben’s contemporary, politically correct, touchy-feely culture, but, in the process of getting to know his own father, Ben discovers that perhaps his perceptions and expectations were off base.
Although this is a Jewish family, there's a wonderful Christian character selling his family farm who thanks God and talks about God's blessings. Furthermore, the movie opens with a beautiful musical rendition of the Lord's Prayer in the background.
The best part of the movie is that it accepts that people are flawed and that we have to love them for who they are, not who we want them to be. Sometimes, the movie is so funny, that the audience just couldn't stop laughing, and sometimes it brought tears to your eyes.
The unfortunate part of the movie is not the barroom brawl, or the two women who try to hustle the father and son, because both are resolved in moral ways, but the steady stream of foul language. This language would be natural to the younger New Yorker, but not necessarily to the grandfather. It would have been more appropriate if such invectives had only been used at the height of the argument instead of punctuating all the dialogue. Thus, the movie demands an extreme caution, although it is probably the type of movie that every family with grown children should see.
THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS is very funny and heartfelt. The best part is that it accepts that people are flawed and that we have to love them for who they are, not who we want them to be. It also has a strong moral worldview. There is, however, a steady stream of foul language. Thus, the movie demands an extreme caution, although it is probably the type of movie that every family with grown children should see.