"Meet the Parents"
Directed by Jay Roach.
Written by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg. Based on the 1992
film of the same name.
Starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 10/15/00
So, I had a few recommendations from current
Bellview members to see the Robert De Niro/Ben Stiller comedy "Meet
the Parents", so I showed up today with Sonja "The Serb" Vincic for
a little Saturday matinee. For the first time in the month, I saw a
movie that did not have any children under four in the audience. As
a useful substitute, though, I had a twosome of ladies sitting in my
row where only one of them knew how to speak English...so, the
English speaker decided to loudly dub the translation for her
friend, who kept asking things like, "What does 'marriage' mean?"
Argh. Anyway, did I like it? Well, I will need to pull out some
scenes from the movie to explain, so this is the part where I give
some of the movie away.
WARNING: KEY DETAILS OF MOVIE ABOUT TO
Just in case you were skimming, you know?
Okay, so here were the good thoughts that Sonja and I came up with:
De Niro and Stiller pairing features
some pretty good lines. Stiller at the dinner table saying
grace and Stiller's final tirade on the plane had me rolling.
Owen Wilson cameo (as Kevin, Pam's
fiancé) is funny and not gratuitous.
Funny ending...real funny ending.
So, beyond that, here were my two biggest
problems with this movie besides its reasonably slow intro:
1. The Murphy's Law movie syndrome. You
know, movies where every single thing that could possibly go wrong
for the lead character does go wrong for 98% of the movie...and
then, amazingly, at the end Stiller still gets the girl. Come on!
2. Ben Stiller, clumsy Jewish innocent
victim. Truth be told, Stiller has played this same character like
15 times. He is so good at it that I truly believe this is Ben
Stiller's real life personality. So, Stiller plays a male nurse
that is trying to win the hand of a daughter of De Niro's ex-CIA
father...and, takes all of De Niro's shit for almost three-fourths
of the movie and then FINALLY gets tough and angry by the end of the
film. I think that the film would have been a lot funnier if
Stiller had not been stumbling over his words for the majority of
the film or not had that look on his face that said "why me?" every
time something went wrong. The end of the dinner scene, where
Stiller finds out that his girlfriend was previously engaged, then
pops the cork on the champagne and destroys the urn containing Jack
Byrnes' (De Niro) mother's ashes, then Minx the cat eats fallen
ashes...scenes like this, the predictable run-on tragedy, occur all
movie long and by the time the backyard of Byrnes' house is set on
fire, I wasn't really laughing any more at Stiller's plight.
There are a multitude of other problems,
though. Stiller's name in the film is Greg Focker...f-oh-c-k-e-r.
The writers of the film clearly though it would be amusing to have
other characters in the production say Greg's last name. I, of
course, did not. Sonja and I both thought it would have been much
better if they had just made Greg's name the other f-word, instead
of messing around with a bunch of sound-alike words that have no
meaning. Also, there are a couple of strange holes that are never
explained in the movie. Kevin (Owen Wilson), Pam's ex-fiancé, seems
like the coolest, nicest guy in the movie. He also happens to be
rich, caring, and thoughtful...not to mention, an incredibly skilled
woodworker that lives in a huge house somewhere just outside of New
York City. Yet, Pam says that the reason their past relationship
never worked was because it was just too "physical." This didn't
seem to make sense to me since PAM was the rabbit of the
relationship! She shows off these sexual tendencies a couple more
times during the movie when she tries to get in the pants of her
current boyfriend Greg...despite the fact that Pam's father has said
no sex in his house while the couple is staying there! Pam seems to
be beyond obedient with every other rule her father has except the
sex thing. Strange.
All that being said, there are some really,
really funny scenes in this movie and the last 20 minutes almost
make up for a slow start. A pretty good deal for a daytime showing.
Comments? Drop me a line at
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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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