Meet the Fockers (2004)
Meet the Fockers (2004)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.

Release Date: December 22nd, 2004 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jay Roach Actors: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Alanna Ubach, Ray Santiago

 


 

G

aylord “Greg” Focker’s (Ben Stiller) male nurse job continues to give him problems, but he’s thrilled to have just delivered a baby for the first time. He’s also still in the Byrnes family “circle of trust” after winning the approval of his soon-to-be-wife Pam’s (Teri Polo) over-scrutinizing, overprotective, old-fashioned, interrogative, militarized, human-lie-detector father Jack (Robert De Niro). And now it’s time for Pam’s side of the family to meet the Fockers (the innuendo behind the name gets tiresome long before the script is finished using it over and over again). Mr. Jinx the cat is also back, along with director Jay Roach (all three Austin Powers films), who maintains the same tone and character designs. The pacing, however, noticeably falters.

Jack has met his match with Greg’s father, Bernard (Dustin Hoffman), whom he regards as just as much of an imbecile as his son-in-law. In reality, Bernard is only as idiosyncratic, stubborn, and eccentric as Jack. Pam’s mother Dina Byrnes (Blythe Danner) never had much of a standout role in the first film, remaining as something of a rational figure. She frequently fell into the background of the shenanigans, allowing the role to once again get trumped by Greg’s overenthusiastic mother Rozalin (Barbra Steisand), an uninhibited sex therapist. Here, the plot follows the previous film’s template, warranting repetitive scenarios in which Greg is ambushed by bouts of embarrassment from his quirky parents (and the busty ex-babysitter, played by Alanna Ubach, as well as his involvement in bizarre sex games and a surprise engagement party.

Especially with the big-name cast additions, “Meet the Fockers” feels like it’s trying with great desperation to outdo the original. Predictably, it fails. De Niro remains the straight man, Hoffman takes over as the funny man, and Stiller stays neutral at first, absorbing all the slapstick tragedies. As the film progresses, Greg gets his share of baby-related pranks while disastrously caring for his infant nephew. He keeps up his tradition of sheltering secrets as Jack continues his paranoid CIA snooping and conspiracy theory uncovering.

The humor stays approximately the same, largely thanks to the screenwriters (Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg) returning for this second chapter. Milking cats, defective toilets, vasectomies, botched circumcisions, and inappropriate sexual jokes and conversations pepper the dialogue. Unfortunately, the constant state of nervous, humorous tension is no longer present, instead being sacrificed for slower paced, generic physical gags, recycled subject matter, and inauthentic situational comedy. And while some of the scenes contain nominal humor, the lengthiness (nearly two hours for a superficial concept) drastically dilutes the whole ordeal.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10