Parents (1989) — Kid deals with nightmares, school, and cannibal parents

“If you’re smart… you’ll make opportunities.”

Justin’s rating: I do not want to go for seconds on this

Justin’s review: The same year that Dennis Quaid charmed us as Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation, he also starred in the shockingly black comedy Parents. Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt play Nick and Lily, two picture-perfect parents in 1950s U.S. suburbia. They’ve got a kid, Michael, who is perpetually afraid of everything… including, clearly, his own folks. It doesn’t help that Nick tells him awful bedtime stories or that the two of them exude “stranger danger” even in their own home.

Or, of course, that the two are cannibals on the down-low.

The core “mystery” of Parents is more like an open secret at which the film winks broadly from the first minute. So it’s not truly a mystery nor really a straight-laced horror film. Instead, Parents becomes genuinely creepy by presenting everything in a kind of satirical, dreamlike way. Quaid proves that he’s very adept at being both funny and sinister, which isn’t easy for most actors to pull off. And Michael’s head is already filled with this kind of weirdness, so we’re obviously seeing things from the perspective of a kid who doesn’t have a lot of mental stability in the first place.

Your guess is as good as mine what the expected audience was for Parents. The subject matter wasn’t going to cast a wide net across demographics, and black comedy doesn’t historically put butts in theater seats. But I guess I can see it as a way to examine how kids sometimes find their parents’ actions and presents a trifle alien. This movie asks, “What if your weirdest, darkest suspicions about your parents was actually true?”

But that approach doesn’t have — pardon the pun — a lot of meat on its bones. By the end, Parents devolves into a boring horror movie where Michael struggles to survive in this charnel house.

I didn’t find a lot to recommend about this one, but its oddball status deserved to be pointed out. Weird way to end the ’80s, if you ask me.

Didja notice?

  • That is the singular most annoying soundtrack
  • She’s from the moon now?

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