Meet the Fockers review by Tom Blain

An outstanding improvement

When Meet the Parents first hit the theatres about 5 years ago, audiences apparently loved it. Ben Stiller getting slapped around by overprotective dad Robert De Niro appeared to be a good thing. I was less impressed. Apart from Owen Wilsons character and one or two other chuckles, I didnt find Meet the Parents to be anything to entertaining. If anything, most of the jokes were telegraphed (if not in the previews) and were executed rather poorly. There were issues with character identification as well. When I heard news of Meet the Fockers (the sequel where in-laws meet in-laws) I thought I would be in store for more of the same. Luckily this time they go it right.

In Meet the Parents boyfriend Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) is introduced to girlfriend Pam Brynes (Teri Polo) family. The challenge for Greg was to win over the future father-in-law Jack (Robert De Niro). Greg lost control of himself on many occasions and made a bad impression, but later was accepted into the circle of trust. In the sequel, Meet the Fockers Gregs next challenge is to integrate Pams conservative upper class family with Gregs whacky liberal family. Not a single thing is under poor Gregs control.

His father Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and mother Roz (Barbara Streisand) have little to no inhibitions. They wear bright colors (if they wear anything at all), talk about what ever is on there mind including sex, and do so at a very loud volume. They also love each other a lot and arent afraid to show it. To top it all off, Gregs parents are Jewish and Pams parents are WASPy Christians. So the stage is set for conflict.

Pams mom Dina (Blythe Danner) seems to have no problem befriending the very accommodating Fockers, but Jack is the tough nut to crack. He is constantly searching for chinks in the chain and judging the acceptability of the goofy future in-laws, instead of just allowing his daughter to marry into whatever family she choses.

One of my complaints with Meet the Parents was that Ben Stillers character was so unlikable. With all the lies he told to his future Jack (breaking the toilet, losing the cat, replacing it with a false cat), I got the feeling he got what he deserved.. Greg should have taken responsibility for many of these mistakes and not dug himself a deeper hole. Thats what a decent person would do. In Meet the Fockers, Greg is much more likable. What happens instead, is Jack begins to break down and become the problem more than Greg. Thankfully, I now feel safely aligned with the main character (as should happen in this type of movie) and feel more apathetic to his situation.

Hoffman is a riot. He is every embarrassing trait about every father rolled into one. Throughout the movie, he never really changes or admits that what he is doing or saying is wrong (despite the fact that other, like Jack, may view him as less of a person). He is one of these people who say, Im just being me. Why should I change? Streisands character Roz is much like Bernie, but I got this strange Streisand feeling while watching the movie. She is so much of a spectacle in real life, that it is hard to separate her from that on screen. But I have seen her do worse; she didnt completely draw from the film. And big laughs were generated by the little baby who played Little Jack. Some of the things that kid did were incredible; much like Mr. Jinx from the first movie.

Meet the Fockers is nothing ground breaking. Its just a funny movie about some uncomfortable situations that many of us have had to deal with. If you didnt like Meet the Parents, because it lacked a few laughs, check out its sequel. The addition of oddball characters gave it the extra kick that the previous one was lacking.




7 out of 10 Jackasses
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