(On TV, February 2015) I really don’t have a soft spot for Meet the Parents, which relies far too much on humiliation comedy for my tastes. I only saw the sequel because it was on my to-do list, not out of any particular desire. The good news, I suppose, is that I don’t dislike Meet the Fockers as much as its prequel. The not-so-good news are that I can’t really create any enthusiasm for the film: it is exactly what it wants to be: a mainstream comedy with occasional outbursts of fake outrageousness, featuring big-name stars in relatively undemanding roles. Ben Stiller is duller than usual as the hapless straight-man-bumbler of the series, while Robert de Niro does himself not favours by riffing off once again on much better past performances. This being said, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand are relatively sympathetic as the “other” set of parents and a few of the jokes land correctly, especially those revolving around the enormous RV that serves as one of the film’s set-pieces. It all leads to a conclusion where misunderstandings and complications are all untangled, albeit not without truth-serum interrogation and a car chase. For the end results, though, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to have brought together Hoffman and de Niro together for such inconsequential pap. Ah well; at least it’s somehow not quite as distasteful as the first film in the series.
(In theaters, December 2000) Not another one of those predictable “comedies” that we’ve come to expect from Hollywood. Predictably enough (and the script is completely predictable), it’s built upon a dumb premise and a strategy of protagonist humiliation (Couple meet girl’s parents, dad’s a bastard and several things left unsaid suddenly pop up… Yes, everything-that-can-go-wrong-will) plus an uplifting finale that solves all problems. No wonder if Meet The Parents raked it in at the box-office, most probably attracting people who see only one or two films a year and whose critical abilities are more adapted to football games than cinematic endeavors. Satisfactorily directed by Jay Roach, sustained by Ben Stiller (not his best performance; no chance to go wild) and Robert De Niro. The film is long, obvious and unpleasant for most of its duration, picking up toward the end when Stiller’s character finally reaches his long-awaited boiling point and lashes out a long satisfying rant. That part being quickly over, we move on gratefully to the expected sugar-sweety finale. Word has it that there will be a sequel. Oh my.