Meet The Fockers

Meet The Fockers

*

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

After surviving the Byrneses in Meet The Parents, it seems only polite to pay a duty call on Gaylord's mom and pop.

To recap: Gaylord (Ben Stiller) calls himself Greg, since Gay Focker doesn't sound right for a heterosexual male nurse in Detroit. He is engaged to Pam (Teri Polo), who's father Jack (Robert De Niro) pretends to be a horticulturalist, while covertly continuing a shadow life as an ex-CIA operative, who can't relax into retirement. In fact, he can't relax at all.

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The first movie is about Greg trying to impress his future in-laws, especially Jack, with whom he shares no common (or uncommon) interests, and nothing goes right. There is a nasty undercurrent of racial snobbery, as Greg is made to feel socially inferior, being Jewish and not a doctor. However, the visual jokes are of a high quality, De Niro is terrific and, for once, Stiller comes up trumps.

The second movie is as painful as a kick in the pants. Stiller appears to be on anti-depressants, De Niro carbon copies his previous performance and Dustin Hoffman, as Greg's dad, goes so far over the top he disappears in a flurry of manic gestures. The possible saving grace is Barbra Streisand, as Greg's mom, although the constant reference to rumpy, let alone pumpy, becomes a tad tedious.

Believe it or not, this is a sex comedy for senior citizens and the running gag is to hide the erotic sculptures/books/toys from the uptight Mr Byrnes, so that he won't think the Fockers are perverted in their touchy feely, let-it-all-hang Florida lifestyle.

Greg's mom is a sex therapist, specialising in geriatrics, and his dad is a failed lawyer, who has spent God-knows-how-many years being a househusband, which means doing a bit of t'ai chi in the garden and cooking in the kitchen, when not touching up his wife and giggling like a teenager. If Jack is a mountain lion, Bernard Focker is a huggy bear - a very small one.

The Fockers's ugly little pooch humps everything, even the Byrnes's moggie, and Jack brings along his two-year-old grandson, whom he adores in a (naturally) controlling manner, like he adored the cat in Parents, and - surprise! surprise! - the little fella's first words are, "Arse Hole."

The humour is stale, derivative and embarrassing, as if aimed at the wrinkly fans of American Pie. You feel sorry for Blythe Danner, who plays Jack's wife. She has nothing to do, but look stoic, as if each day brings another reminder that obsession is a disease of the heart. Streisand may be demanding, domineering and a fashion victim, but Roz Focker hasn't given up on love. Greg and Pam, on the other hand, behave like a couple, who have been married forever. If there was a spark, it went out a long time ago.

Please don't go and see this film. It might encourage Meet The Byrnes-Fockers.

Reviewed on: 28 Jan 2005
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Comedy sequel sees clash of the in-laws.
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Josh Morrall ***

Director: Jay Roach

Writer: John Hamburg, James Herzfeld

Starring: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Spencer and Bradley Pickren, Alanna Ubach, Ray Santiago, Tim Blake Nelson, Shelley Berman

Year: 2004

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

Meet The Parents