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Meet the Fockers

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro
Director: Jay Roach
Genre: Comedy
Year: 2004
Rating: 3 / 5

When Meet the Parents was released in 2000, Robert DeNiro was just beginning a new phase of his career. Fresh off of the success of Analyze This the year before, DeNiro was starting to tackle more comedic projects. Four years later, DeNiro’s dramatic efforts warrant mention, as they are now the rarity. Part of the reason for his renewed success has been the humor in watching this great actor play off of all of the stereotypes that have grown up around him over the years. Due to his track record and roles he has selected, we expect to see DeNiro a certain way, and he has been able to use that for laughs. Some of this shtick is finally wearing thin, but, thankfully, the producers of Meet the Fockers decided to team him with a pair of old pros that are more than up to the challenge.

Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) have been engaged for years, and they are finally ready to take the next step. As it turns out, the length of the engagement had nothing to do with cold feet or a fear of commitment. Greg merely wanted to delay the inevitable meeting between his parents and Pam’s parents. The time had finally come for this meeting, however, so Greg & Pam embarked on a cross-country drive with Jack (Robert DeNiro) and Dina Byrnes (Blythe Danner) to actually meet the Fockers. Scheduled to spend a weekend together in Florida with Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Roz Focker (Barbra Streisand), Greg understandably worries about every little detail, although it turns out that maybe he did not worry nearly enough!

Meet the Parents was a huge hit when it was released, but it never struck the right chord with this viewer. Ben Stiller could handle his role in his sleep, playing the goofy boyfriend who is willing to do anything to fit in with his in-laws. Robert DeNiro had his moments as well, but I always felt that the film took a grave turn a little more than halfway through the movie. Suddenly, a funny movie seemed a bit too serious, and efforts to pull viewers back at the end rang hollow with me. Meet the Fockers did not attempt such a striking shift, allowing its humor to carry through from beginning to end. While the film is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it leaves viewers chuckling with delight – due in large part to copious amounts of bathroom humor – and features a new dad taking center stage.

Robert DeNiro may still share top billing with Ben Stiller, but Dustin Hoffman earns the biggest laughs in Meet the Fockers. A little off and lacking in some social niceties, Bernie Focker is what he is. If nothing else, he is genuine, not afraid to kiss his son in public or frolic openly with his equally frisky wife. Hoffman plays a father trying to help his son make a good impression, but one whose very nature keeps getting in the way. Barbra Streisand provides capable support as his sex therapist wife, while Stiller once again lets a cast of talented actors play off of him. Even Owen Wilson shows up once again to get in some playful jabs with the film’s star. Meet the Fockers ends up as a nice holiday treat, thanks in no small part to a Tootsie roll tucked into our stockings.

Cast:

Ben Stiller..........Greg Focker
Robert DeNiro..........Jack Byrnes
Dustin Hoffman..........Bernie Focker
Barbra Streisand..........Roz Focker
Blythe Danner..........Dina Byrnes
Teri Polo..........Pam Byrnes

Certification: Rated PG-13 for language.
Running Time: 105 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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