Parents is your typical anthropological analysis of cannibalism in 1950s suburbia. First feature from actor Bob Balaban, who has worked behind the camera on shorts and in TV, delights in its evocation of plastic suburbia, highlighting the bad-taste clothes and furniture that look vaguely fashionable today.
Most of the action takes place in the home of the Laemles, where Dad (Randy Quaid) lords it over little Michael (Bryan Madorsky) while Mom (Mary Beth Hurt) mostly busies herself in the kitchen. Michael suffers from recurring nightmares, and is sent to see the in-house psychologist-social worker (Sandy Dennis).
It’s pretty clear to the viewer early on that Mom and Dad are up to something very nasty, so it’s only a matter of time, quite laboriously spent, until the folks attempt to indoctrinate little Michael in their peculiar tastes.
There is not enough weight or complexity to the material to justify the serious approach, and while the potential for considerable black comedy exists, Balaban only scratches the surface. The laughs never come.
Shot in Toronto, pic conveys the desired look.