Meet the Fockers

This sequel’s title indicates the content: smutty, silly and liable to make you smirk despite yourself. As in ‘Meet The Parents’, it’s a comedy of awkward introductions: here between the respective parents of Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) in preparation for their nuptials. Hapless Greg, of course, is wedged in the middle, poised for humiliation.

The Fockers (snigger) are just the kind of loved-up liberals Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) despises. In an inspired move, they’re played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand: he’s the tactile, chatty, stay-at-home dad, she’s the lusty, hippy sex therapist. Both imbue their characters with warmth and credibility as well as humour, though the last remains formulaic. As in ‘American Pie’, comic set-pieces begin with small mishaps and build into deeply embarrassing scenarios: a dog flushed down a toilet or mother Focker ‘riding’ uptight Jack during over-enthusiastic massage.

The message, naturally, is that Jack needs to loosen up, but while his wife’s emotional journey is plausible, his is not. Though a necessary comic foil, he’s the least convincing character: at best a stereotype, at worst a vehicle for visual gags that don’t fit (would the macho Jack of the first film really don fake breasts to feed milk to his grandson?). Most jokes, however, are as funny as they’re squirmily predictable, making the film reliable genre fare. While it doesn’t stretch itself, the familiar humour and likeable performances should have fans, at least, welcoming the Fockers with open arms.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday January 28 2005
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jay Roach
Screenwriter: Jim Herzfeld, John Hamburg
Cast: Robert De Niro
Ben Stiller
Dustin Hoffman
Blythe Danner
Barbra Streisand
Teri Polo

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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david

- might have been funny in 1974 ... go on, be honest with yerself, is there a single joke/set piece that you can't predict coming?