There are two main “jokes” in Drunk Parents. The first sees its protagonists, Frank and Nancy (Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek), try to scheme, con, scam, and otherwise finagle their way out of potential poverty. You see, some things didn’t break their way, the recession hit hard, and now they’re months behind on payments and in desperate need of money—but they’re too proud to ask anyone for help. They also have a daughter in college whom they need to keep in the dark. The second “joke” involves sexual predation. Like, way more of that than you might expect in a movie about financial crisis and the desperate ways people attempt to escape from it.
The whole movie plays out like an unfunny skit that has been stretched to feature length. The leads do a dumb thing, it snowballs into a bigger problem, then they do another dumb thing in order to try to fix that problem, and it just goes on and on until they hit rock bottom. The only point it tries to instill out of all of its chaos is “friends are good,” one that it brings up in an out-of-nowhere wholesome scene where Baldwin turns to the camera and tells us exactly this.
There’s nothing else going on and Drunk Parents begins to feel grating from its second scene. Frank and Nancy are narcissism annoyances who claim to have been good rich people before their moment of crisis but we never see any evidence. They’re just awful and it’s impossible to root for them because of this. Their scheming and conning is tiresome from the get-go and since this is the way they’re portrayed, the entire premise falls apart.
In order for a movie like Drunk Parents to work, you need relatable or at the very least likable protagonists. We have to care that they’re going through this and want to see them pull themselves out. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” sure, but the times only seem marginally bad—Frank and Nancy are moderately blasé about the whole thing, in terms of attitude if not actions—and the measures start at desperate and escalate quickly. This is an R-rated Fun with Dick and Jane without the fun.
I want to emphasize that part. This is an alleged comedy—which is likely why the stakes never feel terribly high—but it contains no laughs. It has caricatures instead of characters, with each supporting cast member getting one “bit” and having to do that and only that for their entire time on screen. The script is bland, the acting is lifeless (probably because of the screenplay or direction), and there’s no point to it all. Here’s a fun fact: this was shot in 2016 and is only now getting a release. Being shelved that long isn’t always an indication of a lack of quality, but it’s not usually a good sign.
I went and looked up the trailer for Drunk Parents and saw that it was being promoted as “from the co-writer of Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2,” which I think tells you just about all you need to know about it. If you want to see a lifeless and joyless version of Fun with Dick and Jane aimed at a demographic of people who enjoyed some of the worst Adam Sandler movies out there (not the worst, let me be clear), then I guess have at it. The rest of you should stay far away.
Conclusion: Drunk Parents is an laughless comedy about financial crisis, parenting, and narcissism.
Recommendation: I can’t think of anyone who would like this movie.