In 10 Words or Less
Now De Niro gets to meet the family
The Story So Far...
In Meet the Parents, Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) wanted to marry his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo, "Sports Night"), but first he had to meet her parents, Jack (Robert De Niro) and Dina (Blythe Danner). Heading to Long Island for Pam's sister's wedding, a comedy of errors followed, as Greg attempted to get in good with Jack, but couldn't crack the strict, eccentric former spy's hard shell. Eventually, something of an understanding was built between them.
DVDTalk has a review of the original DVD release here, as well as a look at the Bonus Edition, which was released at the time of the sequel's theatrical run.
Meet the Parents ended with one of the most obvious "a sequel is coming" moments in film history, as Jack realizes that he's going to have to meet Greg's parents. At the time, the first thing I thought of was Stiller parents in Flirting with Disaster, Alan Alda and Lili Tomlin. They were a great choice to parent Stiller, but in this movie, the choices are even better, calling in two screen legends in Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand.
With Jack and Greg on better terms at the end of the first film, the second film had to find a way to make them adversaries again if this movie was going to work. What better way to do that then to introduce Jack's opposite, in the form of Greg's dad, Bernie Focker (Hoffman) a retired attorney who is something of a beach bum hipper. Bernie is the polar opposite of Jack, and as Greg is still trying to get in good with Jack, Bernie becomes a source of embarrassment for him. It's not an easy situation for a father to have to compete with another father for the affection of his son, but Hoffman is quite good at making the conflict very real.
Equally good is Streisand, who, as Roz Focker, plays a spiritual sex therapist, who just loves her son, and wants to help her son's potential in-laws deal with their problems. Of course, this leads to more embarrassment for Greg. He can't catch a break, but at the same time, no one could possibly fault the Fockers, as they simply want people to be happy.
As with the first film, the troubles Greg and Pam face snowball, and just get more and more outlandish. If it were a real family, no one would fault them for breaking up. They simply have no luck together. of course, again like the first film, things have a way of working out. It is a comedy after all. As Stiller says in one of the featurettes, you know it's safe and no one is going to die in a Meet the Parents movie.
If this had been any other movie, with another cast, it would be seen as an amazingly funny film. But with the expectations brought on by the success of the first film and the big names in the cast, the film is far from overwhelming. In fact, it's almost a disappointment. The saving grace is how deeply Hoffman and Streisand embraced their roles. They are so lovable and fun that it makes the movie great. There's also a couple of cameos that pay off very well, that should bring a smile to the face of any fan of the first film. It's that sense of experience-based comedy that makes this movie a fun time.
Universal packaged their one-disc release of Meet the Fockers in a standard keep-case with a promotional insert that has no MTF info. The disc features an animated main menu and transitions to the other screens. The main menu has the options to play the movie, view scene selections, check out bonus features and adjust the languages. The scene selection menus feature still previews and titles for each chapter, while language options include English, Spanish and French 5.1 tracks, Spanish and French subtitles, and English captioning as a subtitle track.
The anamorphic widescreen video is excellent, from the level of fine detail to the beautiful color to the outstanding skin tones. There are some minor issues that won't be obvious to the casual viewer, but for the most part, this is a gorgeous transfer, without a sign of dirt or damage.
The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1, but the mix is mainly center-speaker focused. Like most dialogue-driven comedies, the surrounds are utilized for background sounds, to pump up the music and provide some directionality in certain scenes. For what it does, the track is good, presenting the dialogue cleanly.
At almost two hours, MTF is a very long movie, which makes the amount of deleted scenes included all the more amazing. Some are extended or alternate versions of what's in the movie, but some were excised completely, including a different, much longer ending. Normally, all the cuts are easily agreed with, but here, some are quite funny. Not as funny as the 11 minutes of bloopers on the DVD though. A mix of real break-ups and on-the-set silliness, this footage is just fun to watch.
Advertised as an extended version, there's an option to watch these scenes as part of the film. It's not the smoothest integration, as an icon appears, and the image changes from anamorphic widescreen to letterboxed widescreen for the insertion of these scenes. The "extended" footage displays plenty of dirt, making the experience of watching the extended version less than optimal.
Director Jay Roach joins editor Jon Poll for a feature-length audio commentary, and the two deliver a good track, with a friendly conversational tone and plenty of information about the making of the film. They joke at the beginning that you're better off watching the film again than listening to the commentary, but it's a pretty interesting chat.
There are five featurettes, two on the film itself, and three on behind-the-scenes work. The first featurette focused on the film, "Fockers Family Portrait," features three short sit-downs with the Fockers: Hoffman, Streisand and Stiller. The sections are viewed by using a menu, but there's no play all option for the six minutes of interviews. "Matt Lauer Meets the Fockers" is your standard promotional interview, as the TV star talks with the six main players on the set of the film. He's no Charlie Rose, but they cast keeps it light and fun.
"Inside the Litter Box" is a four-minute look into work with Jinx the cat, and all the effort that goes into creating the feline's performances. In the same vein is the five-minute "The Adventures of a Baby Wrangler," which covers what working with the kid in the movie was like. The third, the three-minute "The Manary Gland," is the back story of the film's infamous breast-feeding prop. Unfortunately, I'm not ruining it for you if you have seen the film, as the opening menu animation features it.
Text bios and filmographies for the main players and crew are included, along with a blatant plug for NBC's "Scrubs." The thing is, the short promo, which shows the cast working as real doctors to prepare for their roles, is very funny, which makes it hard to criticize.
The Bottom Line
It's not the laugh riot that the first film was, but even so, Meet the Fockers is a good way to spend a few hours, as the characters are enjoyable, and the cast gathers together some great actors. The DVD has plenty of bonus features and the presentation is excellent. I wouldn't hesitate to pick this up if you were a fan of either film.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.