Parents (1989) Movie Review

Comedy. Horror. 1950s.

Parents is the directional debut by Bob Babalan of this cult comedy-horror film.  It starts out slow but ends with a bang (literally).


Randy Quaid stars as Nick Laemle, the lab worker at Toxico.  Mary Beth Hurt stars as Lily Laemle, his loving wife. Michael Laemle, their son or the “Boy,” is played by Bryan Madorsky.  Sandy Dennis stars as Millie Dew, otherwise known aptly as the “Social Worker” in the film. Sheila Zellner, Michael’s “girlfriend,” is played by Juno Mills-Cockell, or London Juno.


When a couple arrives in 1954 suburban Massachusetts, Michael, their son, adapts to his new friends at school and their homelife.  However, when he begins questioning the origins of their huge cuts of meat on the dinner table, his parents become less than responsive.  Through nightmares and accidentally discoveries in the cellar, the situation ultimately boils and spills over in the family.


The pacing of this film is incredibly slow through the first three quarters of this film.  However, once Michael began exploring the cellar, the action and the horror picked up.  There were nice tributes to The Shining throughout the film in Michael’s nightmares.  Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt played their parts extremely well, and the selection of 1950s music was appropriate.  This movie had a certain element of campiness to it, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

(On a side note, in 1991, Bryan Madorsky earned the Saturn Award for this film, and in 1990, Randy Quaid earned the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead for this film.)

Verdict (Out of 10)

This movie is a diamond in the rough and deserves a 6.5 out of 10.  The slow pacing through the first three quarters was the major flaw of the film.  If the pacing was a tad quicker, this film would have been phenomenal.

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