Expectations are a bummer. I'm about to talk up a pretty good movie, raising your expectations for its actual goodness.
Maybe the reality of the movie will not match those expectations and you will be mad at me, which will go nowhere, as I am very far away.
Honestly, it seems like I could make the world a better place by mildly disparaging everything I see. Every good movie would be a pleasant surprise! I could improve the lives of literal dozens!
Well, I'm not doing that. Instead, let me say that 1989's Parents is pretty dang great.
Never miss a local story.
In the 1950s, young Bryan Madorsky moves to a new town with his mom Mary Beth Hurt and dad Randy Quaid, who just got a new job. His parents blend in easily, but they have a dark secret — they eat human meat.
Parents is usually described as a horror/comedy. Between that, the Fifties setting, and the fact it was made in the Eighties, I went in expecting a goofy, garish, loud romp that approaches cannibalism with all the subtlety of a bear that has mistaken lit dynamite for fish. It could happen. Sometimes they are both red.
But I don't think Parents is much of a comedy at all. Except maybe one so dark the moles are thinking about picking up some flashlights. The biggest laughs come from 10-year-old Madorsky's rattlingly morbid statements about how eating cat bones can make you invisible and that the family's heating woes can be solved by burning handless bodies forever.
Those are real things that were said. The movie is a surreal one, filled by Madorsky's grotesque nightmares and a Bible's worth of creepy, vicious advice from Quaid, who doesn't understand or like him.
How often do you see parents who outright dislike their kids? Never? Certainly close enough to never to reach never-like status. It's something Quaid and director Bob Balaban, owner of one of the world's most fun names to say, develop quite slowly, making its realization all the more shocking.
That isn't the only element you could call "slow," however. Parents is an atmospheric movie, more concerned with building Madorsky's dread of his parents than in dishing out your precious "plot points" or "things that happen." And its Fifties setting is hardly original. You know, if you look beneath the surface of something that is perfect, maybe it is not so perfect after all.
That's a little beside the point here, yet it can still be a little old hat. Anyway, that's about the only thing about Parents that is remotely familiar. The rest is very strange and very good.