Case Number 05918: Small Claims Court


Paramount // 1977 // 92 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 7th, 2005

The Charge

First comes love. Then comes the interrogation.

The Case

Greg Focker (Ben Stiller, Dodgeball) is a successful nurse with a beautiful girlfriend, Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo, Domestic Disturbance), who he lives with in the big city. When Greg decides to ask Pam to marry him, he devises a scheme to use the 2nd grade kids she teaches for a proposal Pam won't soon forget. But that proposal is soon postponed when he learns that Pam's sister is engaged and her fiancé went to Pam's father to ask permission first.

This prompts a pre-engagement visit to Pam's parents in the country, though Greg may wish he'd stayed home. Upon arrival at the Byrnes homestead Greg is introduced to Pam's parents, Jack (Robert De Niro, Analyze This) and Diana (Blythe Danner, Sylvia). Greg soon realizes that Jack -- who for a while goes under the guise that he works as a horticulturist, then admits to being an ex-CIA operative -- will truly be the "father-in-law from hell." Jack questions Greg at every turn, even going so far as to subject him to a lie-detector test and monitoring his every move with hidden surveillance cameras. When Greg's attempts to fit in to the Byrnes family end in disaster after disaster, it's up to Greg to try and make Pam's family see that he's a fitting suitor for their daughter...or virtually die trying.

2000's Meet The Parents was reviewed by one of our previous judges, so I'll let you read through their review for an in-depth analysis of the film. My two cents on the film: I'm happy to report that I laughed harder and longer at Meet The Parents than when I saw it in theaters a few years ago. Ben Stiller is an actor who has not always impressed me -- after recently watching such films as Mystery Men and There's Something About Mary, I can't say I've become a fan. By far Stiller's best effort, Meet The Parents is a movie that should inspire laughs for anyone who's had to suffer through meeting their significant other's family members.

Ben Stiller finds just the right tone for Greg Focker (whose name is, not surprisingly, a running gag through this film) between frustrated and placating -- Greg (real name: Gaylord) so wants to impress his girlfriend's parents -- and get the father's approval for marriage -- that he will do almost anything to stay in something De Niro's character calls the "circle of trust." This often makes for some very hilarious and wincing events for all the characters involved. One scene, involving an urn filled with Jack's dead mother's ashes, a champagne bottle, and a housetrained cat, had me laughing for quite some time.

De Niro is at his terse best, making Jack Byrnes a steely-eyed father figure with a heart of gold (buried somewhere where no one can find it). Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller are supported ably by a talented cast, including Teri Polo as Stiller's down-to-earth girlfriend Pam, Blythe Danner (mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow's) as Jack's often befuddled wife Diana, and in a great cameo (or sorts) Californian Owen Wilson (Shanghai Noon) as Pam's ex-boyfriend Kevin (who in one of the film's funniest bits has become a carpenter to follow in the steps of Jesus Christ).

If you haven't seen Meet The Parents yet, this is as good a time as any to check it out. And if you did see it and weren't impressed, I'd urge you to give it another look on DVD -- like myself, you may found yourself laughing harder than you anticipated.

FYI: the other night I went to saw the 2004 sequel, Meet The Fockers, at the local AMC theaters. My mini-review: it's too long for its own good, had many comedic possibilities, but seemed to squander most of them because of the weight of the large star power behind the film. Oh, and Barbara Streisand didn't annoy me as much as anticipated.

Meet The Parents: Bonus Edition is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I'm not sure what the original DVD transfer looked like, but this new "bonus edition" looks great -- the colors and black levels are all solidly rendered and bright when needed. The only miner imperfections I could spot were a bit of edge enhancement in a few key scenes. Otherwise, fans will be very happy with this transfer.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and DTS 5.1 Surround, both in English. Either one of these soundtracks will do the trick -- while there are a few instances where surround sound are used (i.e., background music, et cetera), overall this is a front heavy comedy and not a big budget action film. Also included on this disc is a mildly amusing/informative commentary track by Jay Roach, a few more deleted scenes featuring De Niro, a "Silly Cat Tricks" featurette, a featurette on polygraph testing, a director profile on Roach, and original outtakes from the original DVD release.

Meet The Parents: Bonus Edition is, in all honestly, really just a cash-in for the release of the sequel, Meet The Fockers. Aside of the free movie ticket included inside the case for the sequel (which expires January 9th, 2004), there are 35 minutes of newly released outtakes from the film. Are these worth the purchase? Not really -- if you have the original release you'll be in good hands. The outtakes are funny at times, but not really worth plopping down hard earned money for a new DVD edition of the same movie.

Review content copyright © 2005 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)

* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1977
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary Track by Director Jay Roach
* 35 Never-Before-Seen Outtakes
* Deleted Dcenes
* Silly Cat Tricks" Featurette
* "The Truth About Lying" Polygraph Featurette
* Director Profile
* Original Outtakes

* IMDb

* Official Site