A Fock(er)ing Disappointment
[Pic Courtesy IMDb]
This seems to be a time of disappointing sequels to likeable originals. After the gang of Ocean's 12, it is the turn of the Fockers to disappoint in Meet the Fockers, the sequel to the 2002 hit Meet the Parents. The hilarious original chronicled the travails of Ben Stiller, as he tried to endear himself to his fiance's father Robert De Niro, an ex-CIA agent. The sequel introduces us to Stiller's parents, the Fockers, played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand as Stiller and his fiance's family spend the weekend with their house.
Many films go in for a sequel based solely on the lure of money after the film becomes a bigger hit than expected. But they have already wrapped things up in the first installment and so have little material to deal with in the sequel (sequels like Men In Black II and Bridget Jones Diary 2 all fall in this category). So the sequels often feel unnecessary and end up being a rehash of things seen in the original. In theory, Meet the Fockers actually feels like it has enough material for a solid sequel. It revolves around Stiller's parents, who we never see in the first part, makes them wacky enough to be a complete contrast to the uptight De Niro and casts a couple of likeable and popular stars in the roles. So its surprising that the director still fails to mine anything funny out of this. The movie falls prey to 'sequelitis' i.e. it goes over the top, recycles old jokes, resorts to crude humor and overall, is rarely funny.
The best aspect of Meet the Parents(and for that matter, Analyze This) was that De Niro played it straight. He was funny because he was serious in the midst of all the chaos. He got the laughs without seeming to overtly play for them and the others got the laughs by playing off his seriousness. But here, De Niro is too over the top to be funny. As he wears artificial breasts or opens up the 'command center' in his RV, he begins to parody and ridicule himself and that just ain't funny.
None of the new material in Meet the Fockers is funny. It aims to get most of its laughs from the laidback, devil-may-care lifestyle of Hoffman and Streisand and that works for awhile. But with Streisand's occupation as a sex therapist, the only topic their jokes revolve around is sex. And so they get repetitive and stale after a while. Eventually, the best laughs in the film involve the youngest member of De Niro's family, his grandson. His strict training and his gestures are quite funny and the first word he utters gets the biggest laugh of the movie.
The Fockers are just not worth meeting!