This Christmas, Judge Patrick Naugle is hiring The Flockers to help with his holiday decorating.
Our reviews of Meet The Fockers (published June 13th, 2005), Meet The Fockers (HD DVD) (published August 23rd, 2007), Meet The Parents (published April 4th, 2001), and Meet The Parents: Bonus Edition (published January 7th, 2005) are also available.
Two Fockers are better than one!
Meet the Parents was an enormous hit upon its theatrical release in 2001. The Ben Stiller comedy cast Robert De Niro against type -and genre—as s a former CIA agent turned florist (or is he?) grilling his soon-to-be son-in-law (Stiller) to the horror of the rest of his family. The movie was such a smash that four years later we got Meet the Fockers, featuring two more megastars (Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand) in what truly ends up being the definition of "an ensemble piece." Coming later this holiday season is a third installment, Little Fockers, that may include a cameo by God himself (these casts may be growing too big for their own good). Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers are now on Blu-ray care of Universal Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
In Meet the Parents registered nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder) has found the love of his life in Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo, Domestic Disturbance). Their romance is like a fair tale until Greg is forced to…wait for it, wait for it…Meet the Parents! Jack arrives at Pam's parent's house and meets good natured Dina (Blythe Danner, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge) and Jack (Robert De Niro, Goodfellas), Pam's stern, wary father. As Greg attempts to bond with Pam's parents he inadvertently creates disaster at every turn. Once he has finally met the approval of Pam's folks it's time for her to…
…Meet the Fockers! This time around Jack, Dina, Pam and Greg—along with Jack's grandson, Jack Jr.—head to Florida RV-style for an extended stay with Greg's overly emotional, hug-happy parents, Rozlin (Barbara Streisand, The Mirror Has Two Faces) and Bernie Focker (Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, Billy Bathgate). Jack's sour demeanor bumps up against these two happy hippies which creates tension as Greg and Pam traverse not only planning a wedding but a surprise that will have everyone shouting for glee…if they can keep it a secret from Pam's suspicious father!
Meet the Parents has grown on me. I vaguely remember seeing the film in theaters and it made little impression at the time. I've never been a big Ben Stiller fan (yet relish the look people give me when I say I didn't find There's Something About Mary funny) and wasn't looking forward to seeing Stiller do his usual stammering and Robert De Niro playing yet another variation on…Robert De Niro. Indifference settled in. Then a funny thing happened: I started catching Meet the Parents on cable TV in bits and pieces and found the film vastly more amusing than my initial viewing. I'm not as sure I can pinpoint the exact reasons why this is, except to say that much like The Big Lebowski and Last Action Hero, some movies just need time to sneak their way into your heart.
Meet the Parents is a comedy of errors, and a very good one at that. Ben Stiller has never been funnier (which is saying a lot considering I'm not a fan) and Robert De Niro plays the role of Jack with such dry, deadpan wit that you almost expect someone to come in and smear him with Chapstick before he blows away. These two characters are the heart of the story and their interactions are what really drive the movie's humor. One of the most popular scenes—where Jack, Greg and the rest of the family eat a dinner that ends in the family cat, Mr, Jinx, and grandma's ashes meeting in the worst of ways—is a near laugh riot ("I have nipples, Greg. Can you milk me?"). As the film progresses things just keep getting worse and worse for poor Greg as he attempts to make a good impression on Pam's clueless mother and anal retentive father. From accidentally letting Jack's beloved feline outside to fend for himself to creating a disastrous flood of fecal proportions, Meet the Parents truly is a near-perfect meeting of slapstick comedy and amusing one liners.
The supporting cast is also exceptional, including Owen Wilson (Shanghai Noon, Bottle Rocket) as Pam's obnoxiously funny ex-boyfriend. Granted, this is just Wilson playing another variation on a Wilson character (laid back, bemused, seemingly stoned), but it's a wonderfully silly role. Teri Polo and Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow's mother) may play second banana to Jack and Greg's follies, but they do so with professionalism. Director Jay Roach (who also helmed all three of the Austin Powers films and last summer's underrated Steve Carrell comedy Dinner for Schmucks) handles the material with a light touch that never relies to heavily on stupid humor.
After Meet the Parents the filmmakers felt the next logical step was to introduce moviegoers to Greg Focker's parental units, Mr. and Mrs. Focker in the aptly titled Meet the Fockers. Inspired casting gives us Barbara Streisand as Rozalin Focker and Dustin Hoffman as Bernie Focker. Of course, if a movie like this is going to throw two more characters into the mix, the law of movies states that "a second set of parents and/or in-laws must be the complete opposite of the first set of originally introduced parents and/or in-laws" (I think Isaac Newton wrote that). This means that Bernie and Rozalin's way of parenting was free loving, hippie inspired lunacy. Roz is a sex therapist for senior citizens (read that again and you'll won't eat for a week) and Bernie is a lawyer turned stay-at-home father who fawns over his child as if he was the second coming. Their contrast to the Byrnes' uptight existence makes for some electric moments (as when Hoffman's character attempts to hug a clearly sour De Niro).
If Meet the Fockers has a downfall it's that the originality of the original film has worn off slightly. We're basically in the same territory—let's meet the future in-laws!—and while it's funny, it's slightly less thrilling. This could be because the Fockers are not wound tightly like the Byrnes, so the slapstick situations (as when Bernie's beloved puppy gets flushed down Jack's RV's toilet) often feel forced. I wish they would have cut some of the goofier bits—a scene where Rozalin helps Jack relax by giving him a massage from hell losses all steam within five seconds of starting—and focused a bit more on Bernie and Rozalin's home life. And the inclusion of Jack's grandson, a precocious little baby who picks up swear words like they're going out of style, screams of desperations and feels unnecessary considering a third installment is on the way that features children.
It may be that Meet the Parents and Meet the Parents have hit a cord with audiences because the situation is universal—ninety-nine out of one hundred times, if you want to get married you have to face the in-laws. Meet the Parents ranks a lot higher than Meet the Fockers, but both films are amusing in their own right. Recommended.
Both Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers are presented in 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p high definition. I have nothing but very high praise for both of these transfers. The fact is that since neither of these films features awesome visuals or scenery, the transfer doesn't pop as it may in other movies. But this really isn't the fault of the transfer as it is the movies—they just aren't visually thrilling films. That being said, the colors are all finely detailed with a lack of grain or dirt in the image. Neither of these transfers are perfect (both Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers sport some haloing and some edge enhancement), but what fans do get will likely please.
The soundtracks are both presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 in English (as well as French and Spanish). The soundtracks are both good, though you won't find a lot to show off here if you've got friends over wanting to hear a demo of your new sound system. The music, dialogue and effects are all evenly placed and well heard, but this simply is not a movie that relies of heavy bass or tricky surround effects. The biggest use of the surround speakers (except for a few rare occasions) is ambient noise. Hey, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers sound mixes may not be 'all that' sonically speaking, but at least they get the job done. Also included on each disc are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Both films include some extra features, though a lot of them are just ports from the previous DVD releases. Here's a rundown of what you get:
Included on the Meet the Parents disc are two commentaries (one by director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll and the second with De Niro, Stiller, Roach and producer Jane Rosenthal), a featurette titled "Spotlight on Location" that has a lot of talking head interviews, about three minutes of deleted scenes, almost 20 minutes of outtakes with the cast acting goofy and flubbing their lines, a very short singing segment called "De Niro Unplugged," a short featurette about polygraphs called "The Truth About Lying," Silly Cat Tricks, a profile on director Jay Roach and some BD live features (including a preview of the new Little Fockers sequel).
On the Meet the Fockers disc you get a single commentary with director Jay Roach and producer Jon Poll, around fifteen minutes of deleted scenes, ten minutes of bloopers, another piece of cat wrangling and Jinx the Cat, an odd feature on breasts ("The Manary Gland"), "Fockers' Family Portrait" which features interviews with the cast, a featurette called "The Adventures of a Baby Wrangler" and "Matt Lauer Meets the Fockers" (self explanatory).
Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers are both highly enjoyable
comedies (even if the latter feels slightly lackluster by comparison) that I can
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