One of the most intriguing thoughts about anyone that has been adopted, and knowing about it, is trying to imagine what the real parents are like. Since much of the search will not happen until the adopted children reach a certain age nothing prepare them to accept the reality of how they came into this world and what motivated those parents to give them up in the first place.
Such is the dilemma that Mel Coplin faces. He has been adopted by a Jewish couple, Ed and Pearl, who have done well in bringing him up; Mel is a well adjusted man. After his own son is born, he decides to track down his natural parents. With the help of a young woman of the adoption agency, Tina, he and his wife, Nancy, embark in a trip to find the parents he never knew.
What seemed to be an easy task, Mel who is traveling with Nancy and the baby, plus Tina, turns out to be a complicated journey as the agency has botched the adoption papers and this quartet has to go through two sets of possible parents without any luck. When they finally get to the real parents, Mel is probably thinking if trying to meet his real family was worth all the trouble.
"Flirting with Disaster" is at times a road movie because of the many turns the story takes Mel and his own family. David O. Russell directed the film with great sense of style as he takes us along. Ben Stiller, who still had not made a splash in the movies, is impressive as the likable Mel, who gets much more than what he bargained for. Tea Leoni who is seen as Nancy, made a terrific impression on us when we saw the film originally. She proves here why she was destined for bigger and better things. Her inter action with Ben Stiller is the best thing in the film.
The rest of the cast is excellent. Mary Tyler Moore's Pearl Coplin is one of the best things she has done in her career. She makes this woman real. George Segal, a great comedy actor with great timing, appears as Ed Coplin. Patricia Arquette, who is Nancy, doesn't have much to do because she plays Nancy, the most grounded person in the film. Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin are the real parents, who are former hippies from New Mexico and in spite of being older, they still are young at heart doing the same things they did when they were younger.
"Flirting with Disaster" owes a lot to David O. Russell who also wrote the screen play and is a natural for this type of comedy.