MEET THE FOCKERS: DVD
A little while ago, Gaylord 'Greg' Focker (Ben Stiller) accepted the invitation to meet the Byrnes, the parents of his fiancee Pam (Teri Polo); that weekend turned out a disaster. Now, with the wedding date set, it's time for the Byrnes to meet the Fockers - Greg's parents Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand). Ex-CIA operative Jack Byrnes (Robert DeNiro) has a new, armour plated coach, a combination of luxury touring home and security centre, in which he takes the young couple, his wife Dina (Blythe Danner) and their lapdog to the slightly exotic Focker home in Cocoanut grove, where Bernie is house husband and Roz is a sex therapist to the older set. And the cat can flush the toilet. Their liberal, touchy-feely approach to life contrasts totally with Jack's austere and reserved persona. When Jack becomes suspicious that Greg might be the father of the illegitimate 15 year old son of the Fockers' long serving housekeeper Isabel (Alanna Ubach), the families are thrown into bitter chaos.
Review by Louise Keller:
The ideas behind Meet The Fockers are the best part of this zany sequel to Meet The Parents, but getting Fockerised is not as funny as it should be. Every single drop of juice is squeezed out of every joke, so each gag is overdone. The filmmakers would have been well advised to take heed from the joke involving a piece of foreskin and the Focker fondue, and circumcise the film. But no doubt there were egos to massage, and it did look as though everyone was having a good time. Mind you, the casting of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as the eccentric parent Fockers is as inspired as expected, and the sight of Streisand riding on Robert De Niro's back, trying to massage out his kinks is one you won't forget. Much of the humour is visual, and it's hard to imagine anything much kinkier than De Niro wearing a harness featuring a rubber breast and nipple.
Made by the same team as the original, the focus this time lies on the relationship between De Niro's competitive, paranoid, ex-CIA ('I'm watching you') Jack Byrnes and the free-spirited senior Fockers, whose life limbos to their libidos. Hoffman is a delight as the wacky, laid-back Mr Mom, who believes in the Brazilian martial arts program of Capeoira, encouraging mediocrity and hugging, while Streisand is in top comedic form as author of books like 'Is Your Vagina Happy?' and a sexual therapist to the mature set.
There are more laughs with the Byrnes' exquisite long-haired Himalayan cat Mr Jinx, who once again showcases his talents at toilet flushing, this time getting the better of the Focker's little pooch Moses. The other sure-fire laugh-prompter comes from a cute little toddler (playing De Niro's grandson), who is in the process of being trained to 'self soothe'. Self soothing and hugging are not compatible, as the Fockers and Byrnes discover. Jack Jnr has been artfully taught to use sign language to convey his every whim, and needless to say, his much awaited 'first word' is not what Jack Snr expects.
Ben Stiller's male nurse Greg (real name Gaylord; Gay for short) remains as droll as ever (yes, Streisand and Stiller make a great mother and son with similar nose profiles!) and there's a delightful cameo at the film's end with Owen Wilson, as the still-besotted love-hippie ex of Teri Polo's bride-to-be. Blythe Danner is terrific as De Niro's affection-starved wife, eager to get tips from Streisand's sexpert and the sub plot involving buxom housekeeper Isabelle (Alanna Ubach, wonderful), who helped Greg lose his virginity 15 years previously, is a lot of fun.
The joke about the Focker name gets rather tiresome by the end, and we could have done without meeting cousins Randy and Orny. Even the best jokes need a light touch, and overkill can quickly kill a laugh. I did enjoy meeting the Fockers, but I was hoping for more.
There's plenty more on the DVD, including dozens of deleted scenes, some of which have been included in the movie. Capitalising on the popularity of Jinx the Cat, there is a feature in which director Jay Roach and crew talk about the demands and habits of a feline star, who has his own trailer and director's chair. The bloopers are a lot of fun - they're short, funny, and there are 65 of them. My favourite is one in which Moses, the cute little pooch is being spoon-fed, as he is waiting for his take while sitting in the toilet bowl. There's also a behind the scenes feature involving the fake breast feeding apron, a look at what it takes to direct children on the set, and an audio commentary. Streisand fans will be interested to hear what she has to say in a candid interview: 'I haven't been just an actress, without producing or directing, for 23 years.' The fact that director Roach wasn't afraid of her, seems to have been something that impressed her.
Published May 5, 2005
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MEET THE FOCKERS: DVD (M)
CAST: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Blythe Danner, Barbra Streisand, Teri Polo
PRODUCER: Robert De Niro, Jay Roach, Jane Rosenthal
DIRECTOR: Jay Roach
SCRIPT: John Hamburg
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Schwartzman
EDITOR: Jon Poll
MUSIC: Randy Newman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rusty Smith
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
PRESENTATION: Widescreen; English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital; subtitles Hungarian
SPECIAL FEATURES: Bloopers; deleted scenes; Focker Family Portrait; Inside the Litter Box; Adventures of a Baby Wrangler; The Manary Gland; Feature Commentary with Jay Roadh
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
DVD RELEASE: May 4, 2005
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on 4 consecutive Tuesdays in February, following a FREE introductory screening on February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.