Judge David Johnson still thinks this is uninspired sequel is a cluster-fock.
Misery loves family.
Facts of the Case
The sequel to the comedy hit Meet the Parents tracks the run-up to the marriage between Greg Focker (Ben Stiller, Zoolander) and his fiancée Pam (Teri Polo). After narrowly surviving meeting Pam's overbearing, former-CIA father, Jack (Robert DeNiro), Greg is off to Florida with his future in-laws to spend time with his parents, the flaky Focker duo, Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Rozalin (Barbra Streisand).
Personality conflicts, a dog getting flushed down the toilet, a goofy baby and a several big secrets emerge, and Greg and Pam desperately try to maintain the tenuous relationships between the parents, in time for their wedding day.
Hey folks, I'm going to take the easy route and copy and paste my take on the film from my previous review of the DVD release. Even with a slick coat of HD paint, my feelings remain unchanged about what is essentially a lame, half-baked, contrived sequel to a movie that was actually pretty damn funny.
I liked Meet the Parents. I found it consistently funny, playing to the strengths of its cast. Ben Stiller, for me, has always been funniest playing the straight dope, the poor schmuck who is constantly assailed by ludicrous circumstances. Ben of There's Something About Mary and Meet the Parents is much funnier than schticky Ben of Zoolander and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. And De Niro…well, he won't be parading around in eye-makeup and speaking in goofy voices any time soon.
In essence, the comic leads of Meet the Parents were actually two straight men. The humor arose from the improbable situations and bad luck that tormented them. The result was a solid little comedy movie that didn't do anything different, but delivered consistent laughs.
Meet the Fockers takes a different approach. And it sucks. Folks, this sequel just isn't that funny. Hoffman and Streisand become the zany, animated funny people that were so refreshingly lacking from the previous movie. Bernie Focker practices the art of Brazilian dance fighting! He drives a beat up convertible and doesn't know his way around the island! Roz Focker teaches sex therapy to the elderly! She has obscene statues in the Byrnes' guest room! Har de har!
Worse, the situational comedy, the strongest point of the predecessor, is so forced, I actually felt animosity towards the film for presenting it to me. Take, for example, the stupid "Manary Gland" gag. On paper it may have seemed high-larious to have Robert De Niro walking around with a fake breast, but on the screen, it's a laugh-free sight-gag (and derivative of Seinfeld's "The Bro").
There was a moment in the trailer for this movie when I knew that I would not be attending a theater near me to partake. It's the spot with the Fockers' dog, Moses, getting flushed down a toilet, and his head swirls around and around as he gets sucked down. This scene is part of a lengthy comic sequence that has Moses chase Jinx through the RV, Jinx flushes Moses, Bernie scramble to rescue the dog, destroy the toilet in the process, and soaks everyone with blue toilet fluid. Well, it was obviously a central comedic set-piece, but not once did I laugh.
Finally, the biggest grievance I have with this film is the inclusion of a baby—a baby that serves zero purpose other than set up lame jokes. Look, the cute baby head-butted Greg! Look, Greg is drinking the cute baby's breast milk! Look, the cute baby escaped his crib and is making a mess! Look, the cute baby is swearing! Look Who's Talking Too did baby comedy better than this. In fact, the baby is largely absent in the final third of the movie, as if the filmmakers had exhausted all potentially funny baby-centric situations and just gave up on the gimmick.
I've been pretty ruthless with the flick. Yes it is largely unfunny, a downer from the effective first film, and generally wasted my time, but there are some scattershot entertaining moments intertwined with the lameness. A pretty funny side plot involving Greg and a possible paternity mystery works well, and the revelation at the end elicited the biggest laugh out of me by far. And though the whole "horny dog that humps anything that movies bit" has been emaciated, the sophomoric side in me still found the scenes with Moses going at it with anything he could find amusing. Plus there are a few gags that worked here and there, but like searching for quarters in a beach, you have to wade through a lot of tedium to find them.
Okay, cool? Onto the HD-specific portion of the review. First off, the film looks great. Terrific even. Universal delivered a beautiful new transfer (anamorphic 1.85:1, 1080p) flush with vivid detailing and precise color levels. The picture quality represents a profound improvement over the standard DVD's treatment and high-def owners will not be disappointed. The Dolby Digital Plus audio mix is solid, though the difference between the normal 5.1 surround is negligible. Extras are carried over from the DVD release, and again I'm going to dip into my previous review:
The deleted scenes and the blooper reel are the highlights; watch for a funny bit featuring Stiller as a washed-up major leaguer. The rest of the offering is forgettable: "Fockers' Family Portrait" features brief, generic interviews with Hoffman, Stiller, and Streisand; "Inside the Litter Box" and "The Adventures of a Baby Wrangler" are cheesy behind-the-scenes spots about Jinx the Cart and that irritating baby; "The Manary Gland" devotes like five minutes to the conception and production of the breast prop that De Niro paraded in, which wasn't even funny to begin with; a Today Show interview with the entire cast and a fawning Matt Lauer is self-aggrandizing tripe; finally, director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll offer a relatively un-engaging commentary.
I still don't find much worthwhile about this sequel, but I will acknowledge the sweetness of the high-def treatment. This is a fine looking transfer.
On the charge of wasting my time, the defendant is found guilty. On the charge of looking great while doing it, the defendant is found not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
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