Time: 100 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
SYNOPSIS: While on a vacation home to visit Nick's parents, the Charles' become embroiled in yet another murder. This time they must figure out why a young man, who was a local painter with few ties to the community, was murdered on their doorstep.
BOTTOM LINE: While not as quick and snappy as the previous films in the series, this 5th installment has enough plot and physical comedy to make the viewing experience fun if not exactly memorable. Thankfully, the producers/writers were smart enough to leave Nick Jr. at home while our happy couple takes off on this little visit back to Nick's hometown. Children and murder don't mix well. Unfortunately, they remove some of the merriment by having Nick, and subsequently Nora, clean and sober since his father is greatly displeased by their cavorting, criminal-filled lifestyle. Nick proves to be just as capable a detective without the help of the bottle, but he's far less amusing despite the script's many physical jokes that deliberately poke fun at his past behavior. Nora is her usual prying, unrelentingly nosy self, convinced that if Nick solves a big crime he will finally get his father's approval. How convenient then that a murder is committed right on their doorstep. It's sort of Nora's fault since she implied to a local reporter that Nick was working a case, which caused the local riffraff to get nervous and start shooting.
The case takes the usual twists and turns, the trail leading to every character met in the first half of the film at one point or another. Nora takes a more active role in the investigation, but not on purpose and actually yet again becomes more of a problem than a part of the solution. How Loy manages to stay classy despite the situations they put her in is a testament to her talent and clear love of comedy. These films always manage to keep me guessing until the end and this mystery was one of the more complicated in the series. I guess the writers had to come up with something to distract viewers from the lack of boozing. Watson and Davenport acquit themselves well enough as Nick's parents, however, the rest of the supporting cast isn't as strong. All the suspected killers/villians sort of blend together with the exception of Anne Revere as Crazy Mary. She is one woman you would not want to meet in a dark alley and she gives her role quite a bit of pathos along with the dementia. Loy and Powell were also apart too much for my taste, leaving the film a bit empty of their usual saucy banter. It works well enough once the plot gets going, but this version clearly shows the series age. I guess they had to grow up sooner or later.