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Meet the Fockers (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary with director Jay Roach. Deleted scenes - 20 scenes plus 10 branch scenes to create extended edition. Bloopers (11 mins). Inside the Litter Box: Behind the scenes with Jinx the Cat (4 mins). The Manary Gland. Fockers Family Portrait - Bernie Focker, Greg Focker, Roz Focker. Adventures of a Baby Wrangler. Matt Lauer Meets the Fockers. Lemony Snicket trailer.

IT'S been almost five years since Ben Stiller's well-meaning male nurse, Greg (aka Gaylord) Focker, tentatively met his fiancee's parents and the hilarity that ensued.

Having eventually won over Robert De Niro's staunchly disapproving ex-CIA operative, Jack Byrnes, however, it seemed only natural that the next step should be placing both sets of parents together.

Hence, this cringe-inducing scenario forms the basis for the belated sequel, which finds Greg and Pam (Teri Polo) reluctantly taking Jack and Dina (Blythe Danner) to meet Mr and Mrs Focker, in the form of Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand.

Yet while the original contained a glimmer of recognition coupled with a 'what could possibly go wrong next' feeling of insecurity, the sequel frequently feels laboured and predictable.

The meeting in question takes place over a weekend on Focker Isle, the Cocoanut Grove retreat of Bernie and Roz, yet feels pretty much telegraphed from the outset.

Given the uptight nature of De Niro's over-protective father, it comes as little surprise to find that Greg's dad is a liberal stay-at-home-type, who is as tactile and familiar as possible.

While Streisand's liberated mother is actually a senior citizens' sex therapist who gets her kicks from exploring everyone's sexual insecurities.

To make matters worse, Jack has decided to bring Little Jack, the Byrneses' baby grandson, with him, as well as his beloved Himalayan cat, Mr Jinx, who immediately runs foul of the Fockers' dog.

You can pretty much guess the comic scenarios that unfold, as Greg's past comes back to haunt him and the Fockers continually find new ways to embarrass their son, including a toilet episode in the Byrnes' state-of-the-art RV, followed by an over-zealous game of football, and the inevitable incident with the toddler.

At just under two hours, however, the jokes feel very stretched and rely a little too heavily on crude humour, sexual inadequacy and the pronunciation of the Focker surname.

While the second half of proceedings clearly outstays its welcome as the clock ticks down to the inevitable meeting of minds and bonding.

Were it not for the charisma of Hoffman and Streisand - who clearly seem to be having fun - and the priceless expression of revulsion continually employed by De Niro, Meet the Fockers could have become extremely tedious indeed.

As things stand, the sequel rates as a disappointment, albeit a mildly amusing one - and one which ought to banish any thoughts of a third installment in the series.

 

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