Son in Law

(Steve Rash, USA, 1993)


Conservative country girl Rebecca (Carla Gugino) travels to California to begin her sophisticated college education. Rebecca's parents, helping her settle in on registration day, are introduced to her roommate and sigh with relief that she is "a nice girl".


Moments later, the whole family is aghast as they spy the roommate engaged in a languorous kiss with her lesbian lover. This is the first of many wonderful jokes in Son in Law.


The scandal of Rebecca's ensuing love life is bound up not with her roommate, but the wild and crazy Crawl (Pauly Shore). Rebecca takes Crawl back to the family farm for Thanksgiving as protection against her stolid boyfriend Travis (Dan Gauthier). When he is not working out everyone else's personal problems – such as the marital discord between Rebecca's parents – Crawl rampages around this small rural community like a hyperactive child, singing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" or the theme from Green Acres.


Director Steve Rash (Can't Buy Me Love, 1987) gives the material pace and colour. He is perfectly at ease in the middle range of the teen movie genre, giving equal time to ironic pop culture references and simple moments of sentimentality.


In a genre which has often walked the delicate line between celebrating both the libidinal excess and the innocent idealism of youth, Rash plays the game just right: although there are plenty of low jokes about raunchy sex in Son in Law, the central teenage lovers do not even make it to their first kiss by the final freeze-frame.

MORE Shore: Jury Duty

© Adrian Martin June 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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