Screen Time: ‘Little Fockers’ is hopefully the last in seriesPublished 8:44am Friday, January 7, 2011
Column: Point Across
In 2000, when Robert DeNiro was still relatively new to comedic roles, “Meet the Parents,” was a unique and awkwardly funny take on dealing with the in-laws.
DeNiro was fresh off his role as psychologically dysfunctional gangster Paul Vitti in “Analyze This” and Ben Stiller (who plays Greg Focker in the “Meet the Parents” trilogy) was at the height of his popularity.
The sequel, “Meet the Fockers,” was released in 2004 with the same director (Jay Roach) and writers (Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg), but fell well short of the original. This time, Roach and Herzfeld drop off, and out flops “Little Fockers.”
The ill-named third installment (it really doesn’t have much to do with the Focker kids), retains essentially the same premise, as father-in-law from hell Jack Byrnes (DeNiro) decides for the third time son-in-law Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) doesn’t deserve to be in his “circle of trust.” Focker works to regain Byrnes’ approval, but after a moonlighting gig with attractive pharmaceutical representative Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba) to sell erectile dysfunction pills leads to a series of misunderstandings, the two end up at odds again. If you saw either of this films’ predecessors, this probably sounds awfully familiar.
While DeNiro again proves his comedic prowess, and Stiller, Owen Wilson, Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman have their moments, this is strike two and hopefully the last installment of this series.
Focker’s parents, played by Hoffman and Streisand, have a smaller role than they did in “Meet the Fockers,” but when you bring back Blythe Danner as Byrnes’ wife, Dina, and Wilson as Kevin Rawley (ex-lover of Focker’s wife, Pam Focker, played by Teri Polo), and add other stars such as Harvey Kietel, at some point you run out of lines for everybody.
The one person they did have plenty of lines for (Alba) seemed really out of place. Somehow Alba and “medical professional” just don’t seem to mix, and the relationship between Garcia and Focker is poorly developed and unconvincing, to say the least.
Wilson’s character Rawley is also up to his old tricks, trying to win back Pam’s affection, all while playing the sincere friend with no ulterior motives. Like the other characters, Rawley has amusing lines at times, but he doesn’t have the same zip that was present the first time around.
The storyline remains relatively unchanged from the first Focker chapter, but the humor has gone in a different direction. “Little Fockers” relies too heavily on cheap potty jokes, and really isn’t the family-friendly movie it was promoted as.
As much as DeNiro and Stiller try, their awkward feuding can’t get “Little Fockers” going.
Looking forward to…
The only major motion picture set to release this weekend is “Season of the Witch,” a supernatural thriller starring Nicolas Cage set in a 14th century devastated by the Black Plague. There are several directions you could go with a Black Plague pun, but I won’t.
“The Green Hornet” starring Seth Rogen releases next weekend. Rogen, who co-wrote the screenplay, also plays Britt Reid and The Green Hornet, and it should be a change of pace for Rogen.
Vince Vaughn and Kevin James have been spitting out comedies at a regular pace lately, and the two pair up in Ron Howard’s “The Dilemma,” which releases next weekend. The film also features Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly and Queen Latifah.
Tribune Audience Manager Adam Harringa’s column appears every Wednesday.