LITTLE FOCKERS - Big Mistake
MEET THE PARENTS: LITTLE FOCKERS (comedy)
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Jessica Alba, Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel and Barbra Streisand
Director: Paul Weitz
Screenplay: John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: There are many better films to watch, many better things to do for this Christmas weekend than to spend it watching the cringe-inducing tussles between Ben Stiller and the Robert De Niro in this sequel of a tired, depressing franchise. It offers anything but a jolly ho-ho-ho outing.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: The title refers to the twin offspring, Henry (Colin Baiocchi) and Samantha (Daisy Tahan), Stiller's Gaylord 'Greg' Focker and his wife Pam (Teri Polo). Like most Americans these days, Greg is under pressure to make extra money, to renovate the family's dream home and find a good school for the kids. Things get worse when Pam's obnoxious ex-CIA dad, Jack Byrnes (De Niro) arrives with his long-suffering wife Dina (Blythe Danner) for their kids' 5th birthday party.
HITS & MISSES: One can think of hundreds and even thousands of fresh gags involving the married-with-kids couple but other than lowly vomit gags, the scripters choose to centre this comedy around Stiller and De Niro, manily poking fun at De Niro's vast cinematic roles. One of these has to be The Godfather. When Jack suffers a heart attack and confronts mortality, he makes Greg the 'Godfocker', making him promise to maintain the Byrnes family line.
Then we see Harvey Keitel, who plays a renovation contractor, having an altercation with De Niro - and realise, yes, a nod to their Taxi Driver days. And that's not all. De Niro's Jack is also having problems with 'erection' and this is where sexy Jessica Alba comes in as a rep selling a Viagra alternative called 'Sustengo'. The feeling we get from these parodies of De Niro's films is that the legendary star has become more of a has-been where comedy is concerned. He makes people cringe rather than chuckle. There are some fun moments provided by Barbra Streisand (pictured, as Greg's mom) and Laura Dern as the headmistress of an exclusive, progressive school to which Pam and Greg hope to send the twins. But these are few and far between.
THE LOWDOWN: Time to put the Fockers schtick to rest.