Amazing how altering one vowel from the king of all cuss words can spawn a movie franchise. Let’s face it folks, the one-note “Focker” jokes are what both Meet The Parents and this latest installment, Meet The Fockers, are all about. My evidence for the case lies in the title.
Meet The Fockers is more of the same. Ben Stiller gets humiliated for, this time, 114 minutes. There are dozens of instances of the word “Focker”. There’s a happy ending. Do not go in expecting groundbreaking humor, but you probably already knew that.
Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Stiller) and Pam Byrnes (Polo) are getting married. To seal the deal, a trip is arranged to Greg’s parents place for the parents to meet, share memories, and be happy that their children are destined for one another.
That’s how it works in the fairy tales, at least. Troubles abound when Pam’s conservative and uptight father Jack (DeNiro) and her mother Dina (Danner) meet Greg’s laid-back and liberal parents, Bernie (Hoffman) and Roz (Streisand).
Bernie is an ex-attorney turned househusband when Greg was born and Roz is a sex therapist for senior citizens. They are aged hippies, but still live the life. They have sex at least twice a day, and are not shy about it. One can only begin to predict the embarrassment that is coming Greg’s way.
The longer the two sets of parents are in each other’s presence the worse things get. Secrets are revealed (to Greg’s embarrassment) and the wedding appears to be headed for disaster. But we all know how films like this end.
I reluctantly recommend seeing this film, especially if you’ve had Meet The Parents on repeat since it was released on DVD (or if you were clamoring for those crazy 35 outtakes released on the newest DVD). It will surely deliver for you.
For those looking for something a bit more ambitious, just stay at home. We get potty humor, dogs humping legs, and virtually every other sexual and bathroom-related cliche in the book.
On the upside, there are a few flat-out hilarious moments of comic genius. As usual, the movie is almost worth seeing completely for DeNiro as Jack, ex-CIA agent and always suspicious. Hoffman is perfectly cast as Greg’s carefree father who loves him to death. The interplay between DeNiro and Hoffman really is excellent.
The casting of Barbra Streisand as Greg’s bizarre mother is definitely inspired, but Hoffman steals every scene from her. It’s Barbra in hippie gear. Proceed from there.
Blythe Danner and Teri Polo are essentially spectators to the antics unfolding before them. I give them credit for keeping a straight face during a scene involving Greg, Bernie, and Jack playing football.
It would be easy to accuse writers John Hamburg and James Herzfeld of doing the old copy-and-paste routine, but there are too many inspired moments for that. Jay Roach’s direction is up to snuff, giving the film an extra zest of comedic timing. Production-wise the film is an all-around winner.
The gist of the drift is that Meet The Fockers is exactly what you’re expecting it to be, and nothing more. Whether or not that works for you is up to you to decide. It’s a lot of recycled humor, but in bits and pieces it really is funny.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 114 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and a brief drug reference.
Theatrical Release: December 22, 2004
Directed by: Jay Roach
Written by: John Hamburg & James Herzfeld. Story by James Herzfeld & Marc Hyman.
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo