Published Dec 01, 2004Meet the Fockers shouldn't work as a successful sequel. It utilises the same jokes, the same story structure and well, the same risqué and bumbling situations its predecessor relied on. And yet, as a follow-up to a big blockbuster comedy (Meet the Parents) it surprisingly makes enough of the right moves, extending the story, and more importantly, enough of the right jokes to keep it funny.
Two years after Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) disastrously met his fiancée Pam Byrnes's (Teri Polo) parents, the two are finally ready to wed. But before any vows are exchanged the in-laws-to-be decide to spend a weekend together, primarily to see if there is a "chink in the chain." The two sets of parents, Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert DeNiro and Blythe Danner) and Bernie and Roz Focker (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand), are complete opposites, setting up a contrast full of comical opportunities. Jack's serious, CIA-trained conservatism is a perfect target for Bernie's free-spirited, publicly affectionate liberalism, while Dina's wholesome chasteness is no match for Roz's sexual enlightened personality. Of course, it doesn't take very long to see that this film, like the original, is focused on the tough love relationship between the clumsy Gaylord and his disapproving nemesis Jack.
Stiller is again the butt of most of the jokes, falling victim to his parents' embarrassing stories of his youth (including an amusing revelation of his deflowering by the housekeeper), Jack's investigative methods (revealing a possible illegitimate son, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Stiller) and his own foolish mistakes (a number made during his stab at babysitting). The only real complaints are the exhausting use of a baby (Jack and Dina's grandson) for a number of unfunny jokes and the film's weak ending, which sees the Byrnes' being "Fockerised" and making a complete 180 in their manners.
Meet the Fockers is certainly not the smartest comedy of the year and it's sure to be panned by stern critics for its likeness to Meet the Parents. But the story is a satisfying continuation that was bound to keep going (and bound to carry on even further from here can you say Meet the Little Focker?) and for those who don't take themselves too seriously and enjoy seeing a superb cast of famous faces act their way out of difficult situations, it's a gas. (Universal)