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Parents
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10 from 4,269 votes
Release: 27 January 1989 (USA) /

Parents

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror, Mystery
Director: Bob Balaban,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Michael Laemie (played by Brian Madorsky) is a young boy living in a typical 1950's suburbanite home... except for his bizarre and horrific nightmares, and continued unease around his parents. Especially his father, Nick Laemie (played by Randy Quaid). Young Michael begins to suspect his parents are cooking more than just hamburgers on the grill outside, but has trouble explaining his fears to his new-found friend Sheila, or the school's social worker. Written by Jeff Mercer <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews


Just a few points on this movie as it happens to be one of my all time favourites (thank you Mr Balaban and Mr Hawthorne).

There is an aspect to childhood that is too often (and in the case of Hollywood almost always) forgotten and that is the dark side. The world for a child does not always appear as a bright, shining place of wonder and joy; more often than not the world is strange, forbidding and completely out of our control. That appearance is not deceptive; what is deceptive is the web of fictions we build up over time to help us deal with this. For me part of the thrill of horror (real horror, not simply the slash and stack variety), is the remembrance of that childhood chill, the memory of what Lovecraft termed cosmic horror and Freud called the Uncanny. Regardless of who those people are, parents as the symbol of unimpeachable, unquestioned authority whom we have to trust regardless of their real motives, are a potent representation of this chaotic universe, a universe that could crush us at any moment if it wanted to, but which we're stuck with. "Parents" the movie, evokes this side of childhood in a way unlike almost any other movie I know.

It is not coincidental then that the movie should also be a satire on 50's America and indeed America of any age since. The dependence of a people on its leaders - leaders who have secrets they cannot reveal for the public's good - is analogous to the childhood state and the child's dependence on those mysterious authority figures at the dinner table. In this respect, "Parents" follows on in an honourable tradition of American weird fiction, with antecedents in the works of Ambrose Bierce (read "Oil of Dog") and Shirley Jackson (read "The Summer People"). For both these writers, both the state and conventional society were to be distrusted rather than accepted blindly as unquestionably good. "Parents" shows the limitations of those we put our faith in, pointing out their potential for evil and for weakness. Indeed if ever a country needed a biting critique of lying, cannibalistic authority figures, the America of George W. Bush is that country.

Of course, the movie also follows on in the grand fairy-tale tradition of the Brothers Grimm, who populate much of their fiction with deceitful parents and cannibalistic feasts. Children's fiction is rarely afraid to show the monsters under the bed, nor does it try to fool kids into thinking they're not there. Hollywood should learn from this lesson instead of hypocritically loading their fare with ludicrous violence and simplistic visions of the world. By the way, I am talking about their adult fare; adaptations of Dahl's stories and other so-called children's fare are already more mature than most of Hollywood's "adult movies".

It's a real shame more films like "Parents" are not made as it is on a par with the high standards set by the best of European cinema (the most obvious parallel here being the delirious "Delicatessen" which also features cannibalistic parents in a stylised setting). Made in 1989, I cannot remember too many movies to come out of the 90's with the bite of this wonderful feature. Make no mistake this is a MASTERPIECE and should be seen.

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