- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Will Harris
h, God, not again.
It was a kinder, gentler, funnier time when “Meet the Parents,” the first of the Focker films, hit theaters in 2000. Ben Stiller was still more or less basking in the glow of 1998’s “There’s Something About Mary,” and the idea that Robert De Niro could be funny was still somewhat of a novelty, with the actor having only just come off the success of 1999’s “Analyze This.” If “Meet the Parents” wasn’t what you’d call a comedy classic, there was still a reasonable amount of humor to be had in watching DeNiro square off against Stiller. The sequel, 2004’s “Meet the Fockers,” was neither necessary nor as funny, but given the success of the first film, it was only inevitable, and in fairness, it was at least interesting to see Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand playing Stiller’s parents.
Now, however, we come to “Little Fockers,” a film which, in addition to unnecessarily prolonging the Focker franchise, accomplishes the seemingly impossible feat of making Jessica Alba seem rather unsexy.
When we last left Greg Focker (Stiller) and his wife, Pam (Teri Polo), it seemed as though they were expecting their first child, but as it turns out, Pam was actually carrying twins. Henry (Colin Baiocchi) is more than a little bit like Greg, for better or worse, while Samantha (Daisy Tahan) is a chip off the old block known as Jack Byrnes (De Niro), a.k.a. Pam’s father, which brings us to the set-up for “Little Fockers.” After Jack suffers a heart attack, he decides that it’s time to name the next patriarch of the Byrne family, and after accepting the sad reality that the only viable candidate is Greg, he calls his son-in-law and tells him to start prepping himself to take on the mantle of…wait for it… "The Godfocker." Meanwhile, Greg, who has risen through the ranks of the hospital to serve as both a nurse and an administrator, is being courted by a flirtatious young pharmaceutical rep named Andi Garcia (Alba) to serve as the spokesperson for a new male enhancement drug that is…wait for it…perfect for men with heart problems. That there are jokes about her name should be considered as much of a given as Kevin (Owen Wilson) continuing to pine for Pam.
By now, you have probably confirmed that which you already suspected: there is very little within the screenplay for “Little Fockers” that you can’t see coming a mile away, but there is oh so much that will make you groan and/or cringe. In regards to the former, it is inconceivable from the moment Alba appears onscreen that there will not be a misunderstanding involving her character’s relationship with Greg. Similarly, it does not require the precognitive powers of Nostradamus to predict that a sample of the male enhancement drug will somehow find its way into Jack’s system. Those who wish to participate in any sort of lowbrow-comedy drinking game while screening the film should, of course, eat a heavy meal beforehand. Any who have yet to pass out by the time Greg gets all hot and bothered while Alba helps him give a patient an enema (which, to underline the supposed sexuality of the goings-on, concludes with a close-up of hand sanitizer being dispensed) should be prepared to plumb comedic depths so low that you will hear Henry gleefully request that poor Laura Dern, who plays the little Fockers’ potential headmistress, pull his finger.
Although “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers” were both helmed by Jay Roach, this chapter of the saga is directed by Paul Weitz. Either he’s suffering a midlife crisis and attempting to recapture some of the gross-out glory he achieved with “American Pie” or he’s looking to channel his inner Farrelly brother, but it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who brought us such films as “About a Boy” and “In Good Company.” No matter how fun “Little Fockers” may have been to make, you still have to shake your head in dismay at the end result. The only adult who seems to be having any fun is Dustin Hoffman, who dances his way through the film and, for his trouble, earns a smile – and his paycheck – every time he appears. As for the onscreen reunion of DeNiro and Harvey Keitel, it feels like a wasted opportunity, but then, it’s hard to imagine anyone expecting it to go otherwise.
So will this be the final “Fockers” film in the franchise, or should we fear future “Fockers”? Let us pray it’s the former.
Two-Disc Blu-ray Review:
You might not enjoy watching the “Meet the Parents” movies, but the cast and crew certainly enjoy making them, as evidenced in the bonus material on the Blu-ray. The usual suspects are all here – including an alternate opening and ending, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and a gag reel – but the best moments come during a pair of interviews featuring Ben Stiller with Robert De Niro and Owen Wilson about working together. There’s also a short featurette on the climatic fight sequence, a montage of every “Focker” uttered throughout the trilogy, and a DVD copy of the film.