A couple of weeks ago I had a
decision to make. The screenings for two movies, Lemony Snicket,
and Fockers were on the same day and time. So I polled my
readers and Lemony won by 2-1. That’s where I went. Despite a
terrific trailer, I was disappointed. Last night I finally saw
Fockers and discovered my error.
This is an ensemble cast of
Robert DeNiro (who also produced), Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra
Streisand, and Blythe Danner, working at its best. With a script
credited to John Hamburg and Jim Herzfeld, director Jay Roach exceeds
himself. This is much funnier than Roach’s Meet the Parents
(2000), which was funny. This, on the other hand, is hilarious. It does
what few comedies achieve, literally giving me a laugh a minute,
sometimes good, deep belly laughs.
Greg Focker (Stiller) is
engaged to Deborah Byrne (Teri Polo) and they are going on a trip with
Deborah’s parents, Jack (DeNiro) and Dina (Blythe Danner) to meet Greg’s
parents, Hoffman and Streisand. Obviously the parents are no mix and
that’s where the fun comes. There’s a baby, Deborah’s nephew, who
probably has the best lines, but you have to see it to appreciate it.
DeNiro and Stiller carry the
movie. DeNiro is an uptight ex-CIA agent who always has the same
determined expression on his face, which made me laugh every time he was
onscreen. Stiller is becoming a master of the puzzled expression, which
he generally has and which he pulls off very well.
The one criticism I have of
the film is a serious one. Deborah says she’s pregnant. Even though they
aren’t married, Dina, Hoffman and Streisand are thrilled. The only
problem presented to them as a result of the unplanned pregnancy is that
Deborah is afraid to tell her father. The fact that the baby has been
conceived out of wedlock doesn’t bother anybody. This is a plot device
that many will find morally offensive, as did I. Surely they could have
come up with something that was not as morally repugnant to people of
traditional values. Out of wedlock pregnancies are a huge problem in our
society. Hollywood is remiss when it either glorifies them, or accepts
the conduct as normal. The MPAA gave the film a PG-13 rating. I would
have given it an R because of this.
Finally, another good part of
this movie is that it allowed Owen Wilson to make an appearance in an
entertaining movie. He’s not particularly funny here but he might have
felt uncomfortable working with good material, since it is an
opportunity that has rarely presented itself to him.
At 108 minutes, this is
pretty long for a comedy, but I enjoyed them all, despite the offensive