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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The House Of Yes (1997)

It's Thanksgiving 1983 and a young man (Josh Hamilton) is bringing his fiancee (Tori Spelling) home to meet his family. His psychotic sister (Parker Posey) has just been released from a mental hospital, his delusional brother (Freddie Prinze Jr.) has dropped out of school and his wacky mother (Genevieve Bujold) might be the deadliest of them all! Doing a comedy about mental illness, even a black comedy, can be very tricky. There are those comedies, of course, where the mentally ill (or mentally challenged) are somehow deemed more perceptive about the human condition than the rest of normal society which is a dubious supposition at best. The deranged family here, however, is venal. An incestuous brother and sister who act out the JFK assassination before having sex, a brother who lies about a brain tumor in order to lure a girl to bed, a possibly homicidal mother who not only enables the craziness but, in fact, may be the cause of it. One's ability to laugh may depend on one's familiarity with the real thing, in which case you might find your laughter getting caught in your throat. Based on the play by Wendy MacLeod which was adapted for the screen by the director Mark Waters (MEAN GIRLS), only Prinze Jr. and Bujold manage to make the insanity believable while the others (including Spelling) seem adrift. With Rachel Leigh Cook.

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