Who actually asked for this movie? Seriously, who among us actually thought to themselves, “If only they would make another Meet the Parents sequel?” Did Meet the Fockers really leave that many unanswered questions? Let’s not kid ourselves, a studio exec thought there was money to be made and, in a domino effect, all the stars of the past installments of the franchise lined up for the cash grab. I think I am getting a little ahead of myself though. Let’s take a look at the film.
The cast of Meet the Parents/Fockers are back, only this time everyone is six years older and showing it. Ben Stiller is gray at the temples, Robert De Niro is suffering cardiac arrests, and Blythe Danner is playing sexy dress-up in that creepy way that old ladies do in movies. After his first heart attack, De Niro’s Jack Byrnes believes it is time to inform Stiller’s Greg Focker that upon Jack’s death, Greg will become head of the family. Suddenly feeling that his income is inadequate, Greg begins working nights as a rep for a new erectile dysfunctional drug alongside Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba).
This movie is just a mess. At one point Owen Wilson‘s Kevin attempts to steal Greg’s wife Pam (Teri Polo), all with Jack’s blessing. This scene is acted out right outside Greg and Pam’s child’s hospital room. I suppose the writers could be implying that Jack is also suffering from some sort of dementia as well as a bad ticker, but it’s more likely that the scene was still being tinkered with a few moments before it was filmed.
Little Fockers is the first film in the franchise that was not directed by Jay Roach. Paul Weitz, the man behind such films as American Pie and About a Boy, stepped behind the camera for this installment. Weitz probably figured that this would be an easy way to have his name listed as the director of a big hit, but Roach is sorely missed. Gone is all of the spark from the first film and the playfulness of the second. All we have left are fart jokes and ED pill gags.
All is not lost, however. De Niro manages to make the best of a bad script by turning in a nuanced performance as Jack. Maybe it’s because we are so familiar with this character after watching him in two other films, but you actually feel bad for Jack during most of the runtime of this film. Here is a man that pulled off countless jobs for this country, but has to be walked through the steps of online spying on someone via Google search by some faceless kid on the telephone. De Niro plays Jack as an old man facing his mortality almost as if it had never occurred to him that he would someday die quietly.
This film has a bad smell surrounding it. If you are a fan of the other two movies in the franchise, feel free to watch this and attempt to relive the past. Just don’t come crying to me when you walk out of the theater feeling like someone just robbed you of both your time and money.