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"Meet the Fockers"

Directed by Jay Roach.
Written by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg.
Starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  1/2/05


Here's the long and the short of it--"Meet the Fockers" just isn't very funny!

In this sequel to the 2000 hit "Meet the Parents", the gang's all back with nowhere to go.  Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) and his fiancée Pam (Teri Polo) have endured meeting Pam's parents, Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner), and now must head down to Florida to meet the Focker side of the family--Greg's hooked-on-capoeira dad Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and his sex therapist mom Roz (Barbra Streisand).  Along the way, Greg once again focks up a lot, Jack is suspicious of anyone doing anything, Bernie fockerizes his wife and Roz tries to help everyone with their sex lives.

Okay, I'll admit that I didn't love the first movie, but I had an open mind here.  I mean, we're talking about De Niro and Hoffman in the same movie, even IF it's a mainstream PG-13 comedy.  There's potential that this could be great stuff.  But, for the first 20 minutes or so (before Greg, Pam and the Byrnes get down to Florida), I don't think I laughed once.  And, the laughs that do come are few and far between, and they feel lower than the first film, itself not exactly high comedy.  (I found myself laughing at things like "ass HOOOLE" by the little baby, or watching old people practice new sexual positions.  Even now, I'm kinda ashamed I thought that stuff was funny, given the movie.  You kind of expect that in "Old School", but in a movie with Robert De Niro???)  The script by returning scribes Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg relies quite heavily on the Focker name, which is funny times 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5...but, by the sixth go-round (something like "I'm getting sick of these...Fockers"), you're looking around, hoping that a new twist will come through, and it never does.

Hoffman is pretty funny in this role.  The fun thing about the Hoffman character--and his performance in this role--is that he is allowed to mostly not give a fock, which makes him seem even more natural as the exact opposite of the stuffy Jack Byrnes character.  Just watching Hoffman run around with manic energy is good stuff, and by the time he's dancing at a party and throwing himself over a banquet table, you almost feel like this performance deserves to be in a better movie.  The other performers here do a good job of reprising their previous roles, even if they aren't very funny.  Of course, they didn't write the script, but they don't seem to go above and beyond to get anything out of their know how you feel when you see Will Ferrell in bad movies?  You know he knows that the script is dogshit, but you can see Ferrell doing anything he can to make his scenes worthwhile?  Some performers always bring their A-game, but I didn't get that feeling from the actors in "Meet the Fockers."  Can't put a finger on why, but some of this has to be because they know that no matter how good or bad this movie had turned out, it was going to make a shitload of cash anyway.

I don't care enough about "Meet the Fockers" to even keep talking about it.  If you were on the fence about seeing this in theaters, jump off and wait for the DVD.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09