..

MEET THE FOCKERS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo
Director: Jay Roach
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Universal
Features: See Review
Length: 116 Minutes
Release Date: April 19, 2005

"We Fockerized him."

Film ***

In 2000's Meet the Parents, a character by the name of Greg Focker was put through the ultimate nightmare; meeting his future fiancée's parents. It may have not been such a big deal had the father not been an over-paranoid, uptight former CIA agent Jack Byrnes. The result was not one of the funniest films of that year but, I think, one of the funniest comedies I'd ever seen.

Now it's time for the tables to turn. With Greg and girlfriend Pam now engaged, the time has come for Byrnes clan to Meet the Fockers. Reuniting with director Jay Roach, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller return for another madcap, extremely funny turn as the most odd father and future son in law. Adding some bite to this sequel is the unlikely casting of Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand as the Fockers in question.

You basically know what to expect from the plot, but it's a riot nonetheless. Greg (Stiller) and Pam (Teri Polo) meet up with her parents before heading down to Florida to finally meet Greg's parents. Greg is nervous as ever, because he's aware that his mom and dad are a little more than eccentric. He tries to give future father in law Jack (De Niro) a heads up, but lord knows that it won't do any good.

After a slightly embarrassing trip down to Florida in Jack's brand new RV (I'll leave those moments for you to discover), the clan arrives at the Focker residence, located in a sunny tropical setting. They pull in the driveway to see Greg's dad, Bernie Focker (Hoffman) practicing a strange type of martial arts in the front yard. Upon their first meet, Bernie doesn't hesitate to display a little family love to Jack with hugs and kisses.

Bernie is a former lawyer, now a full time husband, and Greg's mother, Roz (Streisand) is therapist, though Greg tries to conceal the fact that she teaches sex therapy to the elderly. The two parents have always been proud of they're little Focker, as illustrated by "The Wall of Gaylord", which is filled left and right with trophies and ribbons for ninth and tenth place. It's the first of many things that causes Jack to feel a little strange about these Fockers, but this is a walk in the park compared to what lies ahead.

Bernie and Roz's sincere and honest love for their son results in their revealing of several past incidents. During a dinner gathering, it is revealed that Greg lost his virginity to their Latin housekeeper at the age of 19. They also manage to reveal the details of Greg's circumcision in the family scrapbook, while eating, no less.

And it doesn't end there. Jack has brought along his baby nephew, named Little Jack, along for the visit. Little Jack has been taught to communicate through sign language, but has not yet uttered his first word. Thanks to Greg babysitting techniques, it results in the hugest laugh in the movie.

Jack's cat, Jinx, is also along for the ride. Not too long after arriving, Jinx gets into a scuffle with the Fockers' pet dog, Moses. Jinx hates dogs, and their fist meeting is somewhat flushed down the toilet, if you get my drift. Any pet lover is likely to agree that this is probably one of the funniest sight gags of recent memory.

Both De Niro and Stiller are in superb top form. De Niro, just as he did in the first movie, does a masterful job of playing Jack so straight as if he were in a serious movie. By not trying the slightest bit to be funny, De Niro accomplishes the rarest of terrific comedic performances. And Stiller, playing mostly the straight man for a good portion of the movie, gets a huge laugh during a scene at a wedding party.

But the goldmine in Meet the Fockers is Dustin Hoffman. Never before has such a serious actor let it all out in the kind of role no one would've ever expected him to do. I'd never thought I'd see the day when Hoffman executes an end zone dance in a game of football against Jack. Looking back, I think we could consider Hoffman's work in Tootsie a pure warm up.

While it didn't exactly come off as better than its predecessor, or the best sequel of last year (Ocean's Twelve and The Chronicles of Riddick are tied for me in that category), it does manage to deliver plenty of huge gut-busting laughs. If Dodgeball and Anchorman were the funniest films I saw in 2004, then Meet the Fockers is not too far behind.

Video ****

Universal delivers just as terrific a job as they did on the original Meet the Parents disc. The anamorphic picture (Full Screen available separately) is thoroughly clean and clear. The image is loaded with detail, as well as bright and lively colors. No flaws detected at any point.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix is downright perfect for a dialogue driven comedy. There are numerous moments of physical pratfalls that result in strong sounding moments. Dialogue delivery and music playback are also heard in superior form.

Features ***1/2

An impressive array of extras on this disc, beginning with a commentary track with director Jay Roach and editor/co-producer John Poll, four featurettes; "Fockers' Family Portrait", "Inside the Litter Box with Jinx the Cat", "The Manary Gland" and "The Adventures of a Baby Wrangler". Also included are twenty minutes of deleted scenes, and a lengthy blooper reel. You also have the option to watch the theatrical version or an extended version.

Summary:

Meet the Fockers is an exceptional follow up to a comedy classic. The stars are in top form, and the laughs that are delivered are frequent and huge. It's time to get FOCKER-IZED.

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com