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Meet the Fockers (2004)

Meet the Parents 2

And you thought your parents were embarassing.

Directed by:

Jay Roach

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 115 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

Country: United States

You may or may not have noticed it, but good quality comedy sequels don’t exactly grow on trees. All too often, they fall into the trap of relying too heavily on recycled gags, trying too hard to recreate old scenarios, or failing to add strong enough new characters. The great thing about ‘Meet the Fockers’ – the follow-up to 2000’s Meet the Parents – is that it manages not only to avoid each of those perilous pitfalls, but also to come up with a finished product which is every bit as good as its predecessor. It makes the film a rarer commodity than it may at first seem, and one that I hope audiences enjoy as much as I did.

Not that I need worry too much on that score. Director Jay Roach makes a very conscious effort to appeal to exactly the same people who lapped up ‘Meet the Parents’, and his success in doing so means that the majority who stump up at the box office to see this one will come out smiling. You see, although the material is fresh and works well, the key players from the original all return (even Owen Wilson is back, albeit in bit-part mode), and it would have been daft not to have used our familiarity with those characters to its advantage.

So, Ben Stiller is once again the much put-upon male nurse Greg “Gaylord” Focker, Teri Polo is back as fiancée Dina Byrnes, and the grimacing Robert De Niro is reunited with Blythe Danner to play her folks. But, instead of tediously re-treading old ground and trying to manipulate another situation where Greg must again visit his in-laws with chortlesome but predictable results, this time the whole lot of them are of on a trip: a trip to meet Greg’s parents, Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand), in Miami.

That’s really as much as I need to say about the plot, other than the fact that it throws up all of the laughs you’d hope for and more. Stiller and De Niro again display an ability to bounce off one another in as textbook an example of the funnyman-straightman approach to comedy as you’ll find in modern movies, but it’s Streisand and Hoffman who really inject the life into this second addition to the Focker franchise. Old Babs hasn’t been seen on the big screen since ‘The Mirror Has Two Faces’ way back in 1996 and, going by this performance, her absence has been cinema’s loss. But it’s Hoffman who really steals the show, demonstrating a comic aptitude seen only too rarely in a movie career spanning nigh-on 40 years.

This isn’t the sort of film to dabble in the unexpected. The plot doesn’t throw up any shocks, and my main criticism of it would have to be that, at almost two full hours, it’s far too long for a movie of its nature. But, in adding some new names, a new scenario, and plenty of new laughs, the bods behind ‘Meet the Fockers’ have come up with a winner.

It's Got: An ingenious – if slightly creepy – invention to enable blokes to breast feed.

It Needs: To have been a bit more ruthless in the editing department and lopped off around 20 minutes.

Alternatives:

Along Came Polly, Meet the Parents, Our House, There's Something About Mary

Summary

A return visit well worth making. In adding some new names, a new scenario, and plenty of new laughs, the bods behind ‘Meet the Fockers’ have come up with a winner.

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