Film — Meet The Fockers (PG-13)

Meet The Fockers (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Ben Stiller reminds us about a movie we’ve forgotten with Meet the Fockers a sequel you’ll try to block out of your mind.

Gaylord Focker (Stiller), remember him?  The unfortunately-named male nurse tried to win over the tough former CIA agent Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) in an attempt to propose to his daughter Pam (Teri Polo). In 2000, Gaylord, or Greg as he preferred to be called, finally did win over the Byrnes and won the hand of Pam. What’s left? Why meeting his parents, of course. The culture clash between a straight-laced family like the Byrnes and the hippy, free-love Fockers — what could be funnier?

As it turns out, anything — maybe everything. Jack and his wife Dina (Blythe Danner) head down to Florida to meet retired lawyer Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and sex therapist Roz (Barbra Streisand) Focker. There is a bit of deceit in both groups — Jack pretends to be a former florist; Greg begs his mom to pretend to be, well, anything other than a sex therapist. And Greg and Pam have a secret of their own. After four years of planning their wedding (a time period in which most couples have already tied the knot, divorced and begun seriously dating others), they find out that the wedding may be of the last-minute variety — Pam is pregnant. 

Of course, as with any sitcom in doubt, Meet the Fockers can’t wait the length of a pregnancy and needs to give us a ready-to-crawl baby, which it does in the form of Little Jack, CIA Jack’s grandson by his other daughter. Combine baby mugging with the hijinks of the Fockers’ dog and the Brynes’ cat and you have a fully staffed variety show of middling pratfalls and snoozy comedy.

Secrets, babies, animals, wacky parents — ha ha ha…meh. It’s a whole lot of forced hilarity and very little actual hilarity. Meet the Fockers takes the not-a-comic-masterpiece feeling of the beginning and runs crazy with it, giving us wimpy punchlines, stale premises and sleepy plots.

These characters creak and moan and show their rust after four years out of use. The against-type comedy that worked for De Niro with Analyze This and to a much lesser extent with Meet the Parents is like a pair of dirty, threadbare jeans — overworn and in desperate need of a good laundering.

- Amy Diaz

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