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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 19, 2007
As a rule straight-to-video films are just plain garbage. Now I don't mean the Independent or Foreign films that fail to get a wide release. I mean the straight-to-video `should have aired on television' type movies. So, it's safe to say that when my wife picked up this little ditty out of the bargain bin and said "hey, lets get this one, it looks funny" my face contorted like I was sucking on something sour and my head started shaking in the `no' direction. I had never heard of it. I had never seen an advertisement. It had big stars in it and when you couple big stars with no advertisement that only can mean one thing...those stars are ashamed of the movie. But, who can resist a bargain, so `Relative Strangers' became mine and a few hours later my wife and I were sitting on the sofa in our living room laughing hysterically. Yes, `Relative Strangers' was quite the bargain.

The film circles around psychologist Richard Clayton. His life is going wonderfully. He's getting married to a beautiful woman, he's extremely successful and his brother Mitch is extremely jealous, and so he spills his family's dirty laundry. Richard is adopted. Feeling betrayed Richard decides to track down his birth parents expecting to find upper class educated people to justify his talent and success but instead he finds the last people on the face of the earth he'd want to be related to...carnies.

Frank and Agnes Menure (pronounced like cow poop) are outspoken, unmannered and embarrassing, especially to someone of Richard's social standing. With that said Richard spends his time finding every reason imaginable to hate them, to blame them for everything that goes wrong in his life. But all Frank and Agnes do is love their boy and this becomes very aware to Richard's fiancée Ellen. The Menure's may not be the upper class heroes Richard expected, but they are kind hearted and loving people (beneath that harsh exterior) and he just needs to give them a chance.

The film is predictable, but it is, above all else, hysterical. I've always been a huge fan of Kathy Bates, I mean the woman can play anything. I prefer her funny, and here she is undeniable the funniest in the bunch. Couple her with Danny DeVito and you have a comedic team made in Hollywood heaven. Their banter back and forth is purely delightful since they have a very strong comedic chemistry with one another. Ron Livingston serves his purpose as Richard. He was better suited in `Office Space' and comes off a little over the top here, but he works fine and doesn't take away from the film. Christine Baranski is priceless as Richard's adoptive mother Arleen, and Edward Herrmann is also great as his adoptive father Doug. Beverly D'Angelo shines as Ellen's mother Angela, and Neve Campbell herself is delightful as Ellen.

Where is she by the way? I miss my Neve fix!

Don't be a stranger (I can't believe I'm this corny) to `Relative Strangers', a film that took me by surprise in its ability to scratch my funny bone. I absolutely loved this adorable little film and am sure that you will too. So give it a shot, hunt it down, buy it and enjoy every laugh filled minute.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Bates can play serious roles as well as she plays comedy (who can forget the 'squirrel lady' in Rat Race?). The interaction between Bates and Devito is very comic indeed. To bring down the blood pressure from watching one of my horror movie picks, I like an entertaining, lighthearted comedy, and this one delivered. When a thirty-four year old psychologist finds his birth parents he's more than disappointed, he's angry. They're not anything like he imagined. Can he learn to accept them for who they are and love them unconditionally?

Chrissy K. McVay - Author
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2007
Saw this movie on Comedy Central recently. I didn't even know it existed. One of the funniest comedies of recent memory. Four times I busted my gut laughing. The whole thing was very amusing and entertaining. If Danny DeVito had released this movie instead of some of the awful ones that he has, he would be on top of the comedy ladder. Kathy Bates plays off of him expertly. Ron Livingston's expressions as the beleagured would be son, were hilarious. The scene where he hides in a closet and is privy to DeVito and Bates having sex on a bed, brought tears to my eyes. Funny! I am buying this one for my library.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2007
I happened to notice a copy of Relative Strangers with the new releases at the video rental store, and as soon as I saw Danny Devito with Kathy Bates on the cover, I had to rent it! My boyfriend wasn't as thrilled as I about renting a movie he'd never heard of, but once we popped in the dvd we were laughing nonstop! Devito and Bates make one hilarious couple- I can't imagine two better actors for those parts. Ron Livingston as the "son" wasn't so convincing, but honestly, who cares when Devito and Bates steal the show anyway?! I will defintely be watching this one again. Worth it just for the Devito/Bates comedy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have yet to watch a movie staring either Danny DeVito or Cathy Bates that I did not like. They are two of my favorites. My favorite genre, when it comes to movies lies in the area of light comedy and/or romantic comedy. Now I will be honest with you and tell you right off that until I watched this film I had never heard of it nor did the brief description I read do much for me. But when all is said and done, late at night, I will watch just about anything; if nothing else, I get good nightly naps that way.

Well, I got what I wanted with this one; Danny DeVito, Cathy Bates and a light comedy that actually turned into being hilarious. Yes, the plot was extremely predictable but in this case that did not matter. I wanted to be entertained; not challenged, and I can assure you I was entertained.

To make it short, we have a young, up and coming psychologist who has just written what is certain to become a best selling self-help book. He is engaged to be married soon. His parents are tremendously rich and his life is going great. Suddenly out of nowhere he finds that he was actually adopted and his "parents" are not really his birth parents. He immediately hires a investigator to find his true birth parents.

Enter Danny DeVito and Cathy Bates, the Manures (Pronounced just like it is spelled). They are his true birth parents and they most certainly just stepped off of the stage of a Jerry Springer Show. Our young man's life is turned upside down...he is not who he thinks he was.

The strong point of this film is the verbal (and physical) exchanges between DeVito's character and that of Bates. (How can Bates play so many characters and do it so well, each and every time? What a wide ranges she has!) Time and again throughout this movie I found myself laughing out loud. The humor is what you would call a bit crude but the lines are so perfectly and professionally delivered that the viewer will find themselves wishing they did not have a mouth full of soda while listening. (That hurts).

While being quite funny, it is also quite touching at times. I dare say that there is not one of us here that do not have some relatively somewhere that is not something of an embarrassment to us. I know for sure that many of my relatives feel that way about me, and they keep me hidden away during social events and don't run around claiming me as one of their own...all families are like that I am thinking. There are some nice little lessons in this film about owning up to who we are and to not take ourselves all that serious.

I liked this film. It was funny, the casting was almost perfect and the actors and actresses seemed to enjoy what they were doing...they worked quite well with each other. This is a nice light movie that will bring you some enjoyment; at least it did me.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2008
I've seen this TWICE on Comedy Central. There are a few scenes where you'll laugh 'til you cry. The basic story is that a guy named Richard, from a very rich and snooty family finds out he's adopted, when his jealous brother lets it slip. He hunts down his birth parents and they turn out to be carnys - Danny DeVito with a bad toupee and Cathy Bates, straight from the trailer! He finds out that his name is not Richard, but Frank MANURE, Jr.! He rejects them, but his fiance Neve Campbell warms to them, since they're down to earth, like her Mom. He's put in many situations with his birth parents where he is embarrassed to no end. There is a cameo by Star Jones(!), but don't let that stop you. I would recommend this to anyone. You will laugh all the way through.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2014
I happen to catch this one evening and totally enjoyed it. Yes, Danny DeVito & Kathy Bates are a bit trashier than they needed to be. The scene when Ron Livingston imagines who his birth parents are is hysterical - haven't we all imagined that we might have been switched at birth and been born to "better" parents? The parents who raised him are snobby, but decent loving parents. which apparently caused Ron to have problems in his adolescence,etc., all of which leads to his developing a plan to control his anger and he becomes a well-known personality. His brother who's envious of Ron's success causes all sorts of problems. Neve Campbell as Ron's wife is terrific and so glad to see her on screen. The cast is great and I'm still humming "You can't tell the difference in the dark." I love movies when family values win out so this one did it for me. Try it - it's fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2011
I only just saw this movie today on satellite. It's the perfect bookend to Danny Devito's hysterical "Drowning Mona," a comedy cult classic
my husband and I watch at least once a month. Devito stars with Bette Midler in the role she was born to play. Neve Campbell and Tracy Walter again support, and other cast members include Casey Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis, Will Ferrel and Paul Ben-Victor. This one requires a few more smarts to enjoy fully. The soundtrack is peerless, too. '70's classics too many to include.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2009
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2015
I am very picky when it comes to funny movies. I haven't laughed this hard watching a movie for a long time. Danny Devito and Kathy Bates are at their best in this one! I rented it, watched it twice. So I ended up buying a copy as I know I will enjoy watching this one again.
Although this is extremely funny, this movie would not be appropriate for children.
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