Meet the Fockers

Bomb Rating: 

In a film that sports De Niro, Hoffman, Streisand, and Blythe Danner, it's kind of hard to believe director Jay Roach so easily reverts to such tried and true comedy as "dog humping the leg" jokes, but that's what happens with a concept that should never have made it past the planning stages.

Other than attending a pool party at a West Palm Beach retirement community, I can think of no more torturous way to get a lifetime supply of stereotypical Jewish behavior and Yiddish sayings than what "Meet the Fockers" serves up.

This all happens because Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and Pam (Teri Polo) are getting married and have arranged for their parents to meet. The audience is already familiar with retired CIA agent Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) and his wife, Dina (Blythe Danner), but we've yet to meet Greg's parents. As it turns out, they're every child's worst nightmare: a pair of overbearing, whiny, freakishly bizarre people with absolutely no sense of style or decorum who apparently will stop at nothing to embarrass their son.

Bernie Focker (Dustin Hoffman) runs around with his shirt off, practicing obscure martial arts, and is so touchy-feely he'd make Richard Simmons blush. Seeing Dustin Hoffman with his shirt off ranks right up there with "Donald Rumsfeld stool sample" on my "List of Things to See" list. Mother Focker, Roz (Barbara Streisand), is a sex therapist for old people, so Greg tries desperately to keep her occupation a secret from the straight-laced Jack. It's hard to figure out why Babs made "Meet the Fockers" her return to the silver screen after an eight-year hiatus. Maybe she's pining to be on Oprah again.

In a film that sports De Niro, Hoffman, Streisand, and Blythe Danner, it's kind of hard to believe director Jay Roach so easily reverts to such tried and true comedy as "dog humping the leg" jokes, but that's what happens with a concept that should never have made it past the planning stages. Unfortunately, that's what audiences get these days when they reward a surprise film with decent box-office as they did with "Meet the Parents": sequels with about as much entertainment value as poisoned food.

One has to wonder if the filmmakers even revisited the first movie because De Niro's character seems like an entirely different guy. Suddenly he's gone from the potential father-in-law with a genuine scary streak, to the semi-harmless old man whose gruffness probably comes from gas and hemorrhoids. His attitude toward Greg is one of mild amusement now as opposed to the genuine dislike he displayed in the first film.

Ultimately, the premise of the film is that Hoffman and Streisand will kind of outdo De Niro in the obnoxious parent category. Here's a revelation though: Dysfunction has a comedy breaking point. This film reaches it easily with its endless squawking and repetitive jokes. It also doesn't help that it runs about 30 minutes too long. If there's going to be a third film with extended relatives, I'd like to be forewarned so I can plan my suicide.

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