Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand
For some reason, I’ve always been a little sceptical about the ‘Meet The Parents’ series. The first film is okay, but nothing more, and I guess that opinion just kinda spilled over onto the sequel. It doesn’t help that Ben Stiller half annoys me; sometimes he’s really funny and sometimes he’s dangerously close to Adam Sandler levels of stupidity and incompetence. But laying in bed, I decided to give ‘Meet The Fockers’ a real chance, and I found myself howling with laughter and showing no regard for my slumbering neighbours.
After working his way into the Brynes family’s circle of trust, Gaylord Focker AKA Greg (Ben Stiller) must now introduce his prim and proper in-laws to his own parents. Unfortunately, the Focker family are exceptionally odd, open and carefree. Greg’s future father-in-law Jack (Robert De Niro) is not easily impressed at the best of times, and is desperate to find an excuse to oppose the imminent marriage of his daughter and Greg. Whilst staying with the Fockers, Jack is spoilt for choice for reasons to cancel the wedding; whether it be Bernard Focker (Dustin Hoffman) nearly breaking his back, Roz Focker (Barbara Streisand) continually criticising his parenting techniques or Greg teaching his beloved grandson his first word – “ass hooooleee”.
I’m still unsure about Stiller, but he’s certainly enhanced my opinion of him. He’s hapless and desperate to please, and to be honest, I don’t think many other actors could have filled the role of Greg much better. The two fathers are undoubtedly the stars of the show and it’s hard to pick a winner. De Niro is pure class in everything he does, and he probably just pips Hoffman to be the best part of the film. He depicts Jack Byrnes as such a cruel and ruthless father-in-law, with a dry and sarcastic humour which is executed perfectly. Bernard Focker could not be more different, and Hoffman plays the ideal contrast to the stern De Niro, keeping up a polite, positive manner which makes him so likeable. Barbara Streisand is the real surprise for me though, what a hilarious woman she is. I’ve never seen her act before, but whether it be the character or the attitude she brings to the role herself, I was very impressed.
This film is literally laugh-out-loud funny, pretty much all the way through. I was delightfully surprised by the whole thing, and so glad that I gave it some proper attention this time around. With an open minded approach, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, the characters, the jokes, everything about it was absolutely spot on. It may have took me more than 10 years to finally settle down and appreciate the film, but it was worth the wait and ‘Meet The Fockers’ has established itself as a film I will more than likely watch again and again. What is particularly amusing about it all, is that the basic situation is not uncommon at all. Meeting the in-laws, introducing the parents; nerve-wracking stuff and an event which very rarely goes to plan. But by producing such contrasting families, and pushing the boundaries of the bizarre and disastrous right to the edge, director Jay Roach and his writers have created the optimum balance for a light-hearted comedy.
My howls of laughter and little chuckling fits went on for a good few days after. I was quoting the jokes sporadically throughout the week, which I imagine tested the patience of my partner, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m not usually a fan of slapstick comedy, but ‘Meet The Fockers’ absolutely nails it, complimenting silly gags with clever, witty humour to produce a really brilliant experience.