Modern Family Review: "Party Crasher" (Episode 4.12)
A baby, a surprise birthday party, Manny’s first kiss, and references to “Stacy’s Mom” and Mrs. Robinson? “Party Crasher” was a packed-full half hour that delivered touching family moments and heartfelt humor.
The major setup for the episode is Manny’s 14th surprise birthday party. While running errands in preparation for Manny’s last party as an only child, Jay and Gloria act like an amateur Bonnie and Clyde—stealing a woman’s cake, driving through a parking gate—just the things you’d expect from a pregnant woman and her 60-something husband.
Leading up to the party, the other couples have their own dramas. Mitchell thinks Cam is having a difficult time in his new job. He’s acting weirder than usual, and when Lily decides to marry Mitchell, Cam takes it out on the rice, leading to an adorable eye patch for Lily. Later Cam convinces her to marry him by buying her a pink car, which she wrecks and hurts her neck. (“Please do not blame me. We always knew there was a strong possibility she would be a terrible driver.”) At Manny’s party, Mitchell sees that Cam’s students actually love him. Cam confesses that he had the best day at work; he was just upset that he forgot to call Lily. It was easily resolved and nice to see Cam settle into his teaching job. Lily’s injuries were the best thing that’s ever happened to her on this show. Just by being dumped in the pool, the girl stole the show again.
Phil and Claire’s problem is not as disguised: it’s a jean designer with a ponytail named Kenny. When Haley introduces him to her parents, Claire is disgusted while Phil is (of course) clueless and loves him. Kenny woos him with designer jeans that fit “like a diaper.” He insists that Kenny is just Haley’s mentor until he sees Kenny kiss Haley; then he turns into angry Phil. But Claire remembers doing the same thing, trying to get a reaction from her father, so she tells Phil to stay calm. Haley is just upset about being given such a hard time after getting kicked out of college. After giving permission and a credit card for Haley to stay in a hotel with Kenny, Claire and Phil’s game of chicken works: Haley breaks. Phil and Haley have a sweet, true-to-life father-daughter moment.
At the surprise party, there were two unexpected surprises: Manny came home early and inadvertently kissed a girl in front of the whole party, and Gloria went into labor. As documentary Luke says, “And the birthday video becomes a nature film.” All of the problems wrap up in a nice, 30-minute sitcom fashion, even with a clip montage. It was cliché, yet it worked. Modern Family doesn’t break ground with this episode, but it does what it used to succeed at so well: show a slightly wacky family whose members love and support one another and have a lot of fun along the way.
“That’s the whole point of a surprise party. You take someone who you really love and you play ’em like a fool.”—Jay
“I made my bones in men’s apparel, and now I’m working with these local boutiques, just trying to get into girls’ jeans.”—Kenny
“These jeans just slipped on me so perfectly, my name must be Pants-arella.”—Phil
“Please do not turn me marrying my daughter into something ugly.”—Cam
“Kids make fun of you if you get a haircut. I just gave them a full-blown sex scandal.”—Manny
“Here I need to point out that she’s 5 and not a character from Dynasty.”—Mitchell
Is it just me, or should the ER nurse have called Child Protective Services on Cam and Mitchell?
Who doesn’t love Hermione Granger?
What do you think the baby’s name is?