As a tribute to one of our more unsung female filmmakers, Joan Micklin Silver (“Crossing Delancey”), distributor Cohen Media Group’s restoration and re-release of several of her indie movies, including such 1970s gems as “Hester Street” and “Between the Lines,” is a worthy endeavor.
However, a 20th-anniversary theatrical reissue of the director’s little-seen “A Fish in the Bathtub,” a weak-tea comedy notable solely for some casting pluses, proves far from essential.
It’s definitely fun to see classic comedy duo Jerry Stiller and his now-late wife, Anne Meara, in action again. Unfortunately, this creaky vehicle about a Queens, N.Y., couple — the inexplicably nasty and volatile Sam (Stiller) and the kinder, gentler Molly (Meara) — whose 40-year marriage implodes soon after Sam (also inexplicably) brings home a huge carp to live in their bathtub, is a strained and overly obvious battle-of-the-sexes tale.
Sam and Molly’s angry split will test their resolve as well as the patience of their kids (an early-career Mark Ruffalo and Jane Adams), daughter-in-law (Missy Yager) and many friends and neighbors (enjoyably played by such familiar, now-deceased talents as Doris Roberts, Phyllis Newman, Paul Benedict and Louis Zorich, among others).
A wan crisscross of romantic issues and missteps involving several of the supporting characters ineffectively pads the thin central story scripted by John Silverstein, David Chudnovsky and Joan’s now-late husband, Raphael D. Silver.
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Playing: Starts Nov. 8, Laemmle Royal Theatre, West Los Angeles; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino