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Film / Flirting with Disaster

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Flirting with Disaster is a 1996 comedy film directed by David O. Russell and starring Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, and Téa Leoni. It is the story of one man's quest to find his biological parents in hopes that this will cure his neuroses and help him decide on a name for his newborn son. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues.

This film contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Mel's adoptive parents, psychologically.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Mel's biological parents, played by Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin, are affluent, middle-aged hippies.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Pearl certainly seems to think so; to Mel and Nancy's disgust, she's constantly harps on Nancy to get a support bra for herself, and shows off how big her own breasts are by comparison.
  • Debating Names: The plot kicks off because Mel feels he can't decide on a name until he's able to find his biological parents. At the end, he and Nancy decide to name their baby Garcia.
  • Fanservice:
    • Tea Leoni spends a scene in a black bra and panties.
    • A scene in which Mel meets a very affluent family that (quite unfortunately) was a false lead has the two daughters of the family walking around in sports bikinis after coming from a beach volleyball practice.
  • Gene Hunting: The basic premise of the movie - Mel goes searching for his biological parents.
  • Intoxication Ensues: After Mel finally meets his LSD-manufacturing biological parents, his newly-acquainted resentful brother doses his dinner with the stuff, but it gets eaten by a Federal agent who is along for the trip (as it were).
  • The Klutz: One of the things Mel and Tina have in common is this.
  • Love Triangle: Mel and Nancy are married, but each flirt with having an affair with another partner. Mel is attracted to Tina and Tony is Nancy's ex-boyfriend.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: Richard's reaction when he realizes a federal agent has been dosed with his LSD.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Mel's biological parents turn out to be old hippies who passionately argue that taking LSD shouldn't be a felony (as well they would, as they're manufacturing it.)
  • Parental Abandonment: Mel is tormented by the fear that there was some very good reason why his biological parents gave him up for adoption.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Valerie Swaney has a priceless collection of glass animals. Naturally, Mel accidentally destroys it.
  • Straight Gay: Tony and Paul are ATF agents and partners. It's eventually revealed that they're romantic partners as well.
  • The Unpronounceable: The name "Schlichting". Everyone outside of that family seems to have difficulty pronouncing it.