Sibling Rivalry [1990]

Carl Reiner, who paired with Steve Martin in The Jerk, takes another rewarding gamble in Sibling Rivalry, matching comic actress Kirstie Alley with a screwball tale of mistaken identities, three sets of siblings, and a pesky corpse. Alley plays a neglected wife encouraged by her sister (Jami Gertz) to have a fling; when she does precisely that with a handsome stranger (Sam Elliott), he not only dies in bed but turns out to be a long-lost brother-in-law. Further complicating matters is a salesman (Bill Pullman) who thinks he inadvertently killed Elliott's character, plus a lot of doctor jokes (Carrie Fisher plays a bullying gynecologist married to a protologist) and a deadpan cop (Ed O'Neill). The screenplay's comic complications take a little too long to reach critical mass, but when they do, Reiner masterfully controls the essential screwball timing and Alley, Pullman, Gertz, and screen veterans John Randolph and Frances Sternhagen thoroughly deliver. --Tom Keogh

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