Plot: Rebecca (Carla Gugino) has lived a pretty sheltered life, she lives on a farm with her family, has a high school sweetheart, bickers with her little brother, and has little exposure to the outside world. After graduation that all changed, when Rebecca goes away to college, and sees how the other half lives. Once on campus, she realizes how different her new lifestyle will be, but she tries to adjust, so she gives herself some time. But after a party in her dorm room ends up with her personal property being damaged, she finally sees this is not the right place for her to be, and she heads off to call home. Just as she picks up the phone to tell her folks she’s coming home, the resident advisor, Crawl (Pauly Shore) persuades her to give college life one more chance. Soon, Rebecca and Crawl are on a tour of the area, taking in the sights, sounds, and even tastes of everything college has to offer. Rebecca finds herself letting loose, as she dyes her hair and even gets a tattoo. Since Crawl is her best friend and alone for the holiday, she invites him to her family’s Thanksgiving, so he won’t be so alone. But when the folks see the new Rebecca and her unusual friend, will the culture clash be too much?
Entertainment Value: The movies of Pauly Shore in the 90s weren’t critical successes, but you knew what you were in for and to me, most of his work from this period remains fun and harmless. Son in Law is a perfect example of Shore’s 90s comedies, a simple narrative, Shore’s signature sense of humor, and a total lack of pretense, all of which results in a fun, brisk picture. The story is a basic fish out of water tale, with the outlandish Shore transported to a folksy, rural environment and that is the source of most of the laughs. The humor is centered on Shore’s brand of comic energy however, so your opinion of Son in Law is likely going to depend on your appreciation for his wild 90s shtick. At the same time, the simple charm of the concept and the consistent flow of jokes helps keep more of a balance, while Shore is surrounded by capable supporting talent as well. In essence, Son in Law knows it isn’t high art and never tries to be, it just wants to make you laugh. So if you’re a fan of Shore, 90s comedies, or silly humor, give this one a shot.
I wouldn’t rank him with the comedic geniuses of the cinematic realm, but Pauly Shore had a good run in the 90s with a series of movies that built on his unique brand of humor and found a solid audience. His work in this period is rarely acclaimed, but I think it holds up better than expected and while basic, the laughs are still here and Shore’s charm is still effective. Even so, if you’re not a fan of his comic style, you won’t likely be won over by Son in Law, as he dials up his usual persona and performs just as you’d expect. The material is smart however, as it doesn’t ask Shore to do much beyond his usual routine and when the script needs emotion or drama, it keeps the doses low so Shore doesn’t struggle. Some of Shore’s funniest scenes in Son in Law involve Mason Adams and Lane Smith, who have the old school, hard knocks personas that clash so well with Shore’s chill, laid back vibes. The two camp it up a bit, but both perform well and Smith is especially fun as the uptight, protective father. The cast also includes Dennis Burkley, Carla Gugino, Tiffani Thiessen, and Cindy Pickett.