Sunday, February 20, 2005

Movie Review (Meet the Fockers)...

Meet the Fockers

Director Jay Roach (The Austin Powers movies) has returned along with the original cast of his 2000 hit comedy, Meet the Parents. A smart, consistently funny and well written script ensured its success, with both the director and actors mining the comic concept of meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. Back again are Ben Stiller as hapless male nurse Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker, his girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), Robert De Niro as ex-C.I.A. agent and Fockers’ future father in law, Jack Byrnes, and Blythe Danner as Jacks wife Dina.

Due to Greg’s fear of the inevitably calamitous results, Jack and Dina have not yet met his parents, sex therapist Roz (Barbara Streisand) and stay-at-home father Bernie (Dustin Hoffman). But Greg and Pam have gotten engaged and have invited the Byrnes’ to Focker Isle in Miami for the weekend. The stage is set for culture clash comedy gold, as the incredibly laid back and impossibly embarrassing Roz and Bernie set about getting to know the Byrnes’.

Meet the Fockers is a pointless sequel whose only real purpose seems to be to tarnish the reputation of its predecessor and its cast. The focused script and well timed gags of Meet the Parents have been replaced with a sloppy story, overlong unfunny set pieces and some lazy, phoned in performances by its stars. Robert De Niro was undoubtedly the star of the first film, lampooning the threatening hard-man role to which he is most closely associated; a fact obviously not lost on the creators of the sequel. This time out he resorts to pulling funny (?) faces to elicit laughs in the absence of any real jokes from the screenwriters. De Niro needs to fire his agent and start reading scripts before he signs on the dotted line. It’s a shame that the greatest living American actor insists on repeatedly damaging his reputation by choosing these dire roles.

Meet the Fockers is one to avoid. Hugely disappointing in almost every way, Ben Stiller seems to have forgotten how to be funny. With this, the abysmal ‘Dodgeball’ and the painfully average ‘Starsky and Hutch’, Stiller needs a hit. Hoffman and Streisand are criminally wasted here, and make one wonder what could have been had the script not been a shambolic mess of clichés.

2 out of 5