Greg Focker’s life has had its share of ups and downs but learning to juggle a beautiful wife, two kids and a job promotion finally has him feeling like he’s living the dream. That is, until father in law Jack Byrnes decides to crown him King of the family, a title that Greg soon discovers comes at a ridiculously high price, especially when misunderstanding after misunderstanding land Greg back on Jack’s radar.
MEET THE PARENTS was and still is a hilarious comedy. For me, it’s the “be all end all” of impressing the in-laws films (and trust me, there’s more of them out there than you think). Ben Stiller captured the hilarious aspects of THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (a comedy that isn’t as re-watchable as I’d like it to be) and raised it up a few notches with MEET THE PARENTS making a more stable romantic comedy effort that feels grown up without going overboard and out of the comfort zone like THE HEARTBREAK KID. MEET THE FOCKERS was no more than watchable, expanding on the life of characters that I don’t feel needed more attention (I’ve only watched it the once). LITTLE FOCKERS was somewhat more entertaining than the second film but much like that film, comes across as a painful cash grab conveniently showing up just in time for Christmas.
Ben Stiller is a mixed bag for me when it comes to comedy lately. While not as lost a cause as Jack Black (my film choices to review this week were LITTLE FOCKERS or GULLIVER’S TRAVELS and my girlfriend wouldn’t even debate it, she hates Black so much) or Will Ferrell, he’s cutting it pretty close. I’d all but given up on Stiller until TROPIC THUNDER, where I felt that he and Black both brought the funny which begs the most obvious question, are these dudes only funny when challenged by top notch writers and surrounded by A-list co-workers or can they be funny on their own? I want to believe the second one but my mind always drifts back to Martin Lawrence and how well he works alongside Will Smith in the BAD BOYS films. Lawrence kicked all sorts of ass in BLUE STREAK but not much else since (case in point being that BIG MOMA’S HOUSE 3 is coming…sigh). So whether or not Stiller got lucky with MEET THE PARENTS, suffice to say, it’s time to retire Greg Focker.
The one saving grace this film had for me was Robert De Niro and the gut busting relationship that his character has with Stiller’s. For me, it’s the only thing that makes these films even remotely engrossing. I’m not overly impressed by yet another lean on Viagra-esque medicine and boners, I mean seriously guys, it was funny in TOMCATS but that was 2001. We’re a week from being a decade later, so in my humble opinion it’s time we gave those things a rest as well. Joke-wise there’s a lot of recycling here, some things work, some things I just sighed and shook my head at but the one truly impressive use of this came about with Greg’s speech and then the YouTube remix Jack finds at the end of the film. That much, was at least funny.