the Parents, the now infamous 2000 comedy which inspired this sequel,
had humor which thrived on all of the embarrassing situations were bombarded
by. With each darkly comedic moment that protagonist Gaylord “Greg” Focker
(Ben Stiller) and his fiancé, Pam Byrnes, ran into, as they fought the wrath
of her controlling father, Jack (Robert DeNiro), the more I laughed. Their
dopey fight to win Daddy’s Blessing still remains one of the funniest films
of the new millennium. Every time I watch the movie, I chuckle endlessly.
Pam’s parents ultimately came to approving of she
and Greg’s impending marriage, by the end of Meet the Parents. This
time around, as hinted in the first film, it’s time for the Focker and
Byrnes families to become acquainted. As expected, this meet-and-greet of
sorts proves to be quite awkward, and offers plenty of laughs. While Pam’s
mother and father are very proper, Bernie and Roz Focker (Dustin Hoffman and
Barbara Steisand) are…well…not. He’s a former lawyer who hangs around the
house all day experimenting with weird, kung-fu-like exercises and she’s a
therapist, specializing in the sexuality of seniors.
The first film was amusing enough to be forgiven
for whatever narrative areas it lacked in. Meet the Fockers, while
still very funny, was not humorous enough for me to oversee its sitcomy
plot, when watching it. The transitions between scenes seem clunky and, at
115 minutes, there are a lot of bland moments that accompany the comical
ones. Admittedly, I think the movie may have worked better as a mini-series
on television than a feature-length film.
Many have said that they found parts of Meet
the Fockers offensive, particularly a scene in which the Focker and
Byrnes families discuss Greg’s first sexual experiences with his nanny, as a
teenager, over dinner. To be honest, I thought that these passages were much
more tasteful than the average sequences of crudeness, even though many of
them aren’t very funny.
Out of all of the cast members, Streisand fares
the best. In Meet the Focker’s case, the more uncomfortable the
material is for the characters, the better. Some of Roz Focker’s outrageous
dialogue about sex is downright hysterical, in just this way, as it batters
Greg with embarrassment and shocks Jack in its graphicness. Alongside
Streisand, Hoffman is less likeable, and often annoying. He seems to always
be playing the same character, nowadays. (Not to mention, they all seem to
be named Bernie, too). The leads of Meet the Parents, Ben Stiller and
Robert DeNiro, do not share as much chemistry here as they did in the first
movie, but there’s still a lot of life to be found in their interactions.
Even with its fair share of solid jokes, Meet
the Fockers will be much more enjoyable on the small-screen, in a couple
of months. It’s a simplistic by-the-numbers sequel, which just so happens to
have several inspired moments of humor. One thing’s for sure: if it didn’t
have such a memorable predecessor, Meet the Fockers, would’ve been
entirely forgettable, even if it is enjoyable.
-Danny, Bucket Reviews
(Posted in 12.28.2004-2.5.2005 Update)