Meet The Fockers is probably the most unasked for sequel since The Whole Ten Yards. Meet The Parents was a funny movie to be sure and it made quite a bit of money. Yet I didn't hear anyone clamoring for a sequel.
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Not to mention that when I heard that a sequel to Meet The Parents called Meet The Fockers was on the way, I winced. The joke about the lewd and lascivious sound of Ben Stiller's characters last name was funny one time, yet was one of the more overdone elements of MTP, which was a funny movie overall yet not the comedy masterpiece that it thought it was. So the thought of a whole film full of them sounded just as appealing as sitting through a Michael Bolton cover of "Inna-Gadda-Davida" (or a Rob Schneider movie, take your pick).
However, curiosity won out over good sense and I set out for a Thursday afternoon showing of Meet The Fockers with the hope that it wouldn't be as painful to watch as a movie full of talking babies and dogs.
My overall verdict: I've seen better.
I've seen worse too. Meet The Fockers is one movie that isn't going to go down as a comedic masterpiece. You won't miss much if you wait for cable or video. But it is funny enough to warrant a VERY MARGINAL recommendation.
The main problem with Meet The Fockers is that it far too closely mimics the story of the original. Certain parts of MTP get rehashed in MTF with some minor cosmetic changes. It's almost as if the following scenario occurred:
James Herzfeld (Screenwriter): I just got a call from DreamWorks. They want to make a sequel to Meet The Parents and they need a script ASAP.
Marc Hyman (Screenwriter): Sounds good. (Reaches into drawer and pulls out a script). Here's the original Meet The Parents. Let's make some changes to it and give it to the studio and voila. Sequel with the least amount of work possible.
Herzfeld: Think they'll notice the theft err similarities?
Hyman: (Laughing) Nooooo! They'll be too busy waiting for the cash to start rolling in. Now let's make those changes and get the script sent off. (Evil laughter).
Remember Jinxies the toilet flushing cat from MTP. Well he's back this time. Does the idea of him teamed up with a horny dog sound amusing to you? I hope so, because that's what happens here.
The story mimics MTP by taking the plot and reversing it. In the first one, you had Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) going to meet the parents of his fiancée Pam (Teri Polo). Those parents were of course Jack (Robert DeNiro) and Dina (Blythe Danner) Byrnes. The trip got off to a rotten start for poor Greg when the airline lost his luggage. And it didn't get any better from there. In fact, it got to the point at the end when Greg was acting like a maniac and threatening a flight attendant with an imaginary bomb.
I found myself chuckling as the movie sidestepped rehashing that scene early on and instead offered up just the opposite of it. If it had continued on that path, it might have actually gone somewhere worth writing about.
Instead, MTF proceeds from that point on to rehash certain aspects of MTP, all the way down to the use of "Puff The Magic Dragon." Which isn't to say that it isn't funny. There are some pretty funny moments scattered throughout the film. Albeit funny moments of the toilet variety.
The humor in MTF is rather cheap of course. But it is saved from falling off the edge by a few performances. Dustin Hoffman is great as Bernard Focker, Greg's former hippie dad. And I never thought I would say this. But Barbara Streisand made a good Roz Focker. Playing the sex therapist mom as a genuinely caring if somewhat over-zealous woman, Streisand gives one of her better performances. Stiller is also good as put-upon Greg. Plus there is a cameo from the great Owen Wilson.
DeNiro on the other hand seems bored throughout the first half of the movie. It's only when thing start really getting out of hand that he remembers that he's supposed to be having fun here. And Polo basically fades into the woodwork (as Teri Polo always seems to do).
So Meet The Fockers is funny. That's a good thing, because if it wasn't, it would be dead in the water. However it is better than other unnecessary sequels like the aforementioned Whole Ten Yards and is worth a trip to the theater if nothing else out there interests you.
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