Tuesday 8 May 2012

Cinema’s Most Embarrassing Parents

This week sees the release of  All in Good Time, ahilarious family drama from the director of Calendar Girls and Made In Dagenham. When the honeymoon plans of newlyweds Atul (Reece Ritchie) and Vina (Amara Karan) fall apart at the last minute, they are forced to move in with Atul’s overbearing parents (Harish Patel and Goodness Gracious Me’s Meera Syal). The path of true love doesn’t exactly run smooth when you’ve got pushy parents interjecting at every moment!
To mark the film’s release, we took at the best embarrassing parents in movie history.

Mrs Bennet – Pride and Prejudice
If, in Jane Austen’s day, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, it is now also equally well known that parents can seriously scupper the happiness of their children.

So it’s too bad for the Bennet sisters their father is a cynical misanthrope unhappily married to one of English literature’s preeminent embarrassing parents. So determined to send all her daughters down the aisle, the inimitable Mrs Bennet fails to see that her tactless and rude histrionics is the very thing which almost halts the progress of spirited Elizabeth Bennet and haughty (and mega rich) Mr Darcy towards holy matrimony. There have been many adaptations of Austen’s Comedy of social mores, but catch Joe Wright’s 2005 interpretation of the classic love story with Brenda Blethyn’s hilarious turn as Mrs Bennet.

Mrs Jones – Bridget Jones’s Diary
Helen Fielding dedicated her breakthrough novel to her mother, thanking her for being nothing like Bridget’s mother. Inspired by Mrs Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, Gemma Jones’ portrayal of the 30-something singleton’s outrageous mother should make us all thankful for more conventionally embarrassing parents. If your biggest gripe with your mother is her unfortunate fashion sense or the way she proudly displays awful photographs of a younger, toothier version yourself, cast a sympathetic thought for the perennial chardonnay guzzler. Not content with casting aside her husband for a younger, more orange model, Mrs Jones decides to co-host a shopping channel programme with her new lover to the disbelief of her daughter. Good thing Bridget’s love interest, Mark Darcy is so understanding. And a lawyer.

Jim’s father – The American Pie Series
It will forever be a tossup who was more embarrassed by the now infamous scene from the original teen gross-out sex comedy, American Pie: Jim caught in a compromising situation with a homemade confectionary or his father’s overly understanding approach to teen hormones gone terribly wrong.

 Needless to say that Eugene Levy has now become synonymous with ineffectual management of wayward, sex-crazed teenage boys. Levy became so synonymous with the role he has appeared all franchise instalments to date (yes, even the straight-to-video ones! Now that’s embarrising).

Walter Stratford – 10 Things I hate about you
Super-neurotic and paranoid single father Walter Stratford is the bane of daughter Kat’s (Julia Styles) existence in late 90s teen flick classic 10 Things I Hate About You.

 A ultra-strict parenting approach and dropping incoherent youth slang certainly doesn’t endear him to his offspring, but possibly the most embarrassing thing about the character is that actor Larry Miller reprised the role for the (very) short lived television spin off series. Surprisingly, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Julia Styles were all too busy to appear.

Mrs George – Mean Girls
On the other end of the spectrum to Wlater is queen of the “plastics” Regina George’s mother: champion of liberal parenting in the Tiny Fey-scripted masterpiece Mean Girls. Desperate. You may have had a friend with a similar parent and you felt for them but at least you knew you’d get some booze.

Jill and Lloyd Tate - Submarine
For 15-year-old Oliver, the breakdown of his parents’ marriage is just one of the trials of his adolescence life. When he’s not trying to lose his virginity before his next birthday, he ponders the sex life of his parents, worried that his father’s depression and his mother’s suspected affair with the neighbour and new age guru, Graham (played by an brilliantly OTT Paddy Considine) may lead to a broken home. Even if it’s not entirely clear if the escapades of the adults in Submarine is of embarrassment to Oliver, the viewer will certainly feel enough to compensate thanks to Richard Ayoade’s sensitive handling of Joe Dunthorne’s achingly authentic tale of growing up.

Clark W Griswold – The National Lampoon’s Vacation series
Comedy legend Chevy Chase’s defining role was as the head of the Griswold clan, eagerly dragging the family on a series of calamitous trips. Over the course of four films he got into so many scrapes that he didn’t even notice the actors playing his kid kept changing (the rotating cast of embarrassed Griswold juniors included Anthony Michael Hall, Juilette Lewis and future Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki.

Eeshwar and Lopa – All In Good Time
Newlyweds Atul and Vina are meant to go to Goa for the ultimate honeymoon – but when the airline goes bankrupted, they have to spend their wedding night at Atul’s family home. It’s meant to be the most magical nightr of their life, but it’s hard to consummate a marriage when the groom’s pushy parents won’t leave them alone. All In Good Time is a hilarious comedy of manors in the vein of East Is East and Bend It Like Beckham

All In Good Time is cinemas May 11th.

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