Ben Stiller stars as Mel Coplin, a neurotic New York entomologist in the middle of an identity crisis. He’s having problems with his wife Nancy (Patricia Arquette, so sexy and round and wonderfully womanly), with whom he had a baby 4 months ago yet they haven’t named him yet… and they haven’t had sex since. And then there’s Mel’s adoptive parents (George Seagal and Mary Tyler Moore), who are really not easing his mind. Mel figures that maybe he should find his real parents, maybe learning where he came from would help him, or at least explain his problems. And so he accepts the offer of Tina (Tea Leoni), an adoption agency psychologist of some sort who is conducting a study to see the effects of a reunion between a child and his biological parents. They’re in for a very bizarre journey through America, as they try to find Mel’s folks. Their search will put them on the path of various oddballs, from an Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent and his gay lover with an armpit fetish to a family of 60s deadbeats (Lily Taylor and Alan Alda) who make LSD out of their basement!
“Flirting with Disaster” is a very entertaining movie full of surprises. It was written and directed by David O. Russell, who went on to make the genre-bending Gulf War political action comedy “Three Kings”. This is a much smaller movie, and it doesn’t revolutionize anything, but it’s still cleverly put together. Russell’s script works in all of these different characters and mixes them all together in very original ways. The film isn’t particularly deep, but it’s well written, well acted, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Ben Stiller is good in the lead, even though he always plays the same character. But hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Like the Woody Allen character, the Ben Stiller character is a bit predictable but endearing nonetheless. So, “Flirting with Disaster” is no “Three Kings”, but it’s a cool little flick well worth seeing.