Meet the Fockers
First things first. Meet the Fockers is better than its
predecessor, Meet the Parents.
That's not saying much, of course. Meet the Parents was a long
line of toilet jokes broken up by a little odd couple humor from Ben Stiller
and Robert De Niro. Fockers is much funnier, for two specific
Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.
These two old pros come in and the fun they are having is infectious.
They know that they're better than the material, so they throw themselves
into their slightly stereotypical roles with such gusto, with such obvious
joie de vivre, that it is contagious. When these two are on the
screen, you can't help but smile.
makes you wish they were on the whole film. They aren't of course.
Because when the so-called stars (Stiller and De Niro) are driving the
vehicle, it is not nearly as much fun. De Niro's character Jack Byrne
in particular is a case of a little going a long way.
we saw in the first film, Jack is a former-CIA operative who goes nuts when
his daughter (Teri Polo) gets engaged to a slightly nerdy male nurse, Greg
Focker (Stiller). In the end of the old film, it seemed that Jack and
Greg had come to a bit of an understanding. So, it is a bit of a
surprise that as Meet the Fockers starts, they are just about back at
a little while it is funny. Jack's slow burns and Greg's desperate
juggling to keep his future father-in-law liking him does have a certain
comic power. However, the film really starts to come together when the
group goes to Florida to meet Greg's parents.
Rosalind and Bernie Focker (and the last name isn't any funnier in this
movie than it was in the first, though it gets even more airtime) are the
opposite of WASP-y Jack and his repressed, lonely wife (Blythe Danner).
Rosalind and Bernie are loud, liberal, very Jewish and very open about
everything. Greg bends over backwards to make sure that his parents
don't embarrass him in front of his new in-laws. He tries to hide the
fact that Bernie was a stay-at-home dad and Rosalind is a well-known sex
therapist for seniors. He tries to make them act more like the
Byrnes, quiet, intense, secretive.
one point Rosalind Focker tells Greg that she is tired of not being herself
because her son wants to make sure that Jack likes them; instead Greg should
be worried whether his parents like Jack. The audience can't help but
think she's absolutely right. The Fockers may be loud and boisterous
and a little tacky, but they are also alive, passionate, feeling human
beings. Jack is an uptight, selfish, smug jerk. Who should feel
superior to whom?
now, the film has become a bit of a retread of the first, with embarrassing
things happening to Greg and De Niro snarling at him. Unnecessary
complications are thrown at the screen like a surprise pregnancy, the
return of a former girlfriend and a former boyfriend, a teenaged child who
may possibly be Greg's, a party full of Fockers and the pushing up of the
wedding date. However the film really comes alive when Bernie tries
desperately to connect with his grown son and when Rosalind teaches Jack's
repressed wife the joy of sex and yiddish terms.
Eventually, even Jack
is seduced by the love and the zany life force of the Fockers. At
least until the next film, when he will undoubtedly be back to square one
yet again, just because there is no story to tell otherwise. Of
course, there is no more story to tell about these families either way.
However, with this film's popularity, it's almost inevitable that the Byrnes
and the Fockers will get back together, most likely for Meet the Baby.
a slight movie like Meet the Fockers really deserve to have a cast
made up of two of the best actors of their generation, and arguably the best
female singer? Probably not. But all the talent in front of the
camera makes the problems with the movie a whole lot easier to take.