Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra
Written by: John Hamburg, Jim Herzfeld, Marc Hyman
Directed by: Jay Roach
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and a brief drug reference
Running Time: 103
Date: 12/16/2004
IMDB

Meet the Fockers (2004)

1 Star (out of 4)

'Meet'-heads

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

There is notone joke in Meet the Fockers, the newsequel to the horrible Meet the Parents (2000). Oh, there are references to dogs humping people's legs,vasectomies, circumcisions, toilets, small children repeating curse words,people getting injured and octogenarian sex, but nothing resembling thestructure, setup and payoff of an actual joke.

Wallowing in the mire of this frat boy noise is an assembly of fine actors. Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner return as Jack and Dina, the right-wing parents of Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), while Pam's fiancé Gaylord Focker (Ben Stiller) introduces the whole crew to his parents: sex therapist Roz (Barbra Streisand) and lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-dad Bernie (Dustin Hoffman).

One set of parents is embarrassingly liberal and the other embarrassingly conservative. One thing the movie does well is to ridicule both sides equally, but that's about where it stops. Imagine what Preston Sturges could have done with this setup.

During their careers, these actors have worked with the likes of Vincente Minnelli, William Wyler, Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Now, here they are with Jay Roach, who directed the Austin Powers films, as well as the horrible Meet the Parents.

Whereas Meet the Parents had one or two funny, organic moments that arose within the moment, this time Roach sticks to the script like rancid glue, allowing for not one second of life or improvisation. It even uses the old scene in which Greg makes an ass of himself in front of everyone, this time under the influence of a truth serum. Even Stiller looks bored and tired with this aging shtick.

Of the film's high-class actors, only Streisand avoids embarrassment. She has sunk into her role -- her first screen appearance since 1996's The Mirror Has Two Faces -- in a way that lets her enjoy it. The other actors can barely hide their shame, but Streisand appears not to be too concerned about this outing. Her easy grace is the film's only selling point.

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