Actually, quite a fun and funny film! Caught me a bit off guard. While some parts are seem contrived or predictable (though perhaps only in light of tropes films like this have set), it generally succeed in being an absurd and farcical production to great effect. I certainly enjoyed it.
Borderline classic? Unsure. It has that hyper focused dark comedy vibe that makes you want to laugh and cringe at the same time. I love how it examines this game of "Depression Olympics" that each of the characters plays into. Yes. Your feelings are justified-- but, not any more than the next person crippled by anxieties. Your relationships with the people around you should not be how you establish your identity.
3.7(5): I actually liked the movie but it lacked that profound "something" to make it stand out. I mean, when we finally found out who the parents were, it wasn't portrayed as having been a huge deal to Stiller's character. What's more, besides being "nervous", the movie didn't show us anything that was at stake be discovering his parents. So, good movie, but not tremendously memorable.
"The neurotic frenzy threatens to annoy, but Russell's edgy, abbreviated style generates farcical comic friction without sacrificing character. When, early on, that icon of wholesomeness Mary Tyler Moore flashes her support bra, it's clear that, henceforth, nothing's sacred." - Timeout London 3.5 stars
The MUBI review of this piece uses the phrase "manic screwball" which is the most appropriate way to refer to this. Definitely more comedy than the dramatic pieces he has put forth in recent memory. There are so many great parts but the hysterical/neurosis of every character aside from Patricia Arquette's is where the real comic gold lies.
A movie I had forgotten about, certainly one I can appreciate. The thought of searching out biological parents is not new, but the unravelling of this story is what keeps you engaged. Enjoyed Brolin's character most. The dialogue as evidence, much has changed in twenty years.
I found it too silly and manic 10 years ago, but love it now. What changed? First, I started appreciating movies where the jokes are in the details. Second, I saw and loved Old Hollywood screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby and My Man Godfrey, and surely Russell wants to tap into their vibe. His great subject is the family unit, in all its chaotic glory—these are the people who love you, and you should take it.