We’ve seen Bad Moms and Bad Teachers, Dirty Grandpas and even A Bad Moms Christmas. Now there’s Drunk Parents, another sloppy adults-centered comedy now streaming on Netflix. Much like some of the aforementioned titles, Drunk Parents boasts an A-list cast and potentially promising premise. But can these alcoholic adults bring some serious laughs? Or will it leave you with a comedy hangover?
The Gist: Frank (Alec Baldwin) and Nancy Teagarten (Salma Hayek) are a seemingly wealthy couple who have just dropped their daughter Rachel (Michelle Veintimilla) at an Ivy League college. While they keep up appearances for her, Frank’s artificial heart valve company has gone bankrupt and they have no idea how they are going to pay their daughter’s tuition, save their home, and prevent their leased Volvo from getting repo’d. Desperate to hang on to their lifestyle, they start trying to sell everything they can (largely to no avail). After their neighbor asks them to look after his house while he’s out of town for an extended period of time, Frank and Nancy drunkenly post a Craiglist ad for their neighbor’s home – and find a tenant almost immediately. The catch? New tenant Carl (Jim Gaffigan) also happens to be a registered sex offender. Despite this new information and their fears about what might come of this stunt, the couple can’t quite let go of the $25,000 check from him – so they offer him their own home.
If things seem like a mess now, it only gets worse. They re-list their neighbor’s house and immediately get a new tenant, only to find later that the home has been emptied of all its furniture by said tenant. Neighborhood residents mistake the couple as sex offenders and post a video of their violent threats against them online (yes, it goes viral). Frank and Nancy try slumming it at her sister’s house, but their nephew frames them as sex offenders and they find themselves homeless again. The shenanigans only escalate from there; there are violent encounters, an evening in jail, confrontations with angry bums played by Colin Quinn and Will Ferrell, kids cursing, and yes, the eventual reveal of allllll the dramatic secrets. And this all takes place over 7 days.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Drunk Parents is definitely in line with other comedies like The House (in which two recent empty nesters similarly pull some crazy stunts to get out of a financial rut), as well as the aforementioned Bad Moms. Quality wise, it’s definitely more on par with The House, offering very little actual laughs despite its strong cast.
Performance Worth Watching: Even this A-list cast can’t really save what’s happening in Drunk Parents, but Michelle Veintimilla sparkles in her limited screen time as Rachel Teargarten, Frank and Nancy’s daughter. We only really see her when she’s dropped off at college and returns to discover what shenanigans her parents have gotten up to, but she leaves a lasting impression. Veintimilla has the kind of presence that makes you hope for bigger, more worthy projects in her future, and we sure hope there are better pickings for her than Drunk Parents.
Memorable Dialogue: There are so many non-jokes in Drunk Parents I found myself trying to block things out, but the concluding narration reads as such a painful last-ditch attempt at justifying the film’s dumb title that I had to write it down: “And it all started when they got drunk. And because they were drunk, drunk with love for their daughter. And like the saying goes, ‘a drunk man’s actions are a sober man’s thoughts. They were drunk parents.” Dear GOD.
Sex and Skin: Any skin here is played for maximum laughs; an almost-hookup interrupted by an uncomfortable knock on the door, the removal of Spanx because of a spider infestation, etc.
Our Take: With a cast including Alec Baldwin, Salma Hayek, Jim Gaffigan, Joe Manganiello, Ben Platt, and several other notoriously funny people, it is almost unfathomable that Drunk Parents is as terrible as it is. The premise on its own isn’t particularly original, but there are plenty of comedies out there that manage to make tired tales sing. This is not one of them. Despite their best efforts, none of these performers can save this train wreck of a script. The “jokes” are flat out unfunny, and in addition to that, a lot of recurring bits they try to roll feel in poor taste; the central couple mocks their daughter’s disabled boyfriend Jason (Platt), and there are so many sex offender jokes here that don’t work I can’t even list them all, including an uncomfortable sequence that sees the couple’s nephew pretend that he was molested by them. Despite what Drunk Parents seems to think about itself, none of the comedy feels edgy or boundary-pushing, because the film doesn’t have any idea of what its sense of humor is at all.
The bad jokes and lame attempts at physical comedy aside, perhaps Drunk Parents might have found its footing if any of it ever felt genuinely sincere. But none of it does. It’s hard to believe that the couple even really cares about one another (or even their daughter, who the film is determined to convince us is their reasoning for all of this), and each weird pivot that the plot takes only makes it feel more nonsensical. It feels like they’re continually throwing in new ingredients in the hopes that somehow whatever half-baked scene they toss in next will save the recipe. After an hour-and-a-half of truly not caring what happens to this couple (or anyone in their lives, frankly), the ending of this film is so nauseatingly saccharine that it feels like it was ripped from a Hallmark movie, and Drunk Parents truly thinks we’re going to buy what they’re selling. There isn’t any earned character development that leads me to believe in any semblance of a happy ending, and the solutions to all their problems are ideas haphazardly tossed in during the film’s third act. And they don’t even spend most of the movie drunk, so the title can be added to the list of things about this movie that don’t work. I don’t think I smiled once, except for when I realized it was finally over. Even a hefty serving of your liquor of choice can’t make this one go down easy.
Our Call: SKIP IT. Even with a cast this stacked, nothing about Drunk Parents works. Even the title doesn’t really make sense, as they spend the majority of the film’s runtime sober. With unfunny jokes and cringeworthy physical comedy, it’s a wonder why any of these stars signed on in the first place. Save yourself the hangover and watch something – anything – else.
Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.