[Movie Review] Meet the Parents

00261_001Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, James Rebhorn
Director: Jay Roach
Genre: Comedy
Cert: 15
Released: 2000

You meet the girl of your dreams. You know that you guys were made for each other. Nothing can stop the two of you making the perfect life together ? except maybe her father. Yup, it’s the unnerving battle between loving father and loving boyfriend that is the worst nightmare of all concerned. Jay Roach (the Austin Powers series) brings the nightmare to the screen with a stellar cast and a better script.

Male nurse, Greg Focker (Stiller – “There’s Something About Mary”, “Zoolander”, “Happy Gilmore”, “Reality Bites”) is dying to marry his girlfriend Pam (Polo – “The Arrival”, TVs “Northern Exposure”), but he realises that to do it properly, he must first win over his future father-in-law, Jack (DeNiro). The couple spend the weekend with Jack and his wife, Dina (Danner – “Forces of Nature”, “Mad City”, “Husbands and Wives”, “The Prince of Tides”), and inevitably, despite his best efforts, everything goes wrong.

“Meet the Parents” really is classic comedy. The comic set-ups stand out a mile – a surname of ‘Focker’, the fact that Greg is a male nurse, his dislike of everything that Jack likes, his requirement to quit smoking for the most stressful weekend he’ll encounter. It is fair to say however that no matter how good your script and storyline might be, you have to have actors who can deliver when required. Thankfully DeNiro and Stiller, whom the movie revolves around, do not disappoint. DeNiro has been playing roles in his sleep recently (“Ronin”, “15 Minutes”, “The Score”, “Men of Honour”), so it’s great to see him somewhat out of character, playing the suspicious, but oddly sensitive father figure.
DeNiro and Stiller – great comedy.

Stiller sometimes gets an unfair press from critics, but his delivery here is top notch. He works hard to make an amusing situation even funnier when he struggles to explain to his girlfriend’s cat-loving father why he don’t exactly love cats (‘I don’t hate cats?I just, eh, prefer dogs’). The good-natured Focker finds himself inexplicably at odds with the parents as well as his Pam’s brother (Jon Abrahams – “Scary Movie”), her sister (Nicole DeHuff) her fiancée (Thomas McCarthy – “Conspiracy Theory”), his father (the excellent James Rebhorn – “The Game”, “Independence Day”) and Pam’s very successful ex-boyfriend, Kevin (Owen Wilson – “Armageddon”, “The Cable Guy”, “Zoolander”).

The characterisations are very defined but not stereotyped, making it quite easy to understand the logic behind their reaction to outsider, Greg.

Not being a huge fan of the Austin Powers movies, I was surprised at how enjoyable “Meet the Parents” was. Roach ensures that the gags are continuous, and there is far less sentimentality than you might expect.

A sequel is lined up for 2003, “Meet the Fockers”. Now what I wouldn’t give to see Jason Alexander (George in “Seinfeld”) given the role of Greg’s dad. Alexander and DeNiro duelling it out? File that under ‘love to see it’.

4star

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