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Movie Review: Little Fockers

By Matthew Huntley

January 4, 2011

She is thrilled to hear that he has filled his Viagra prescription.

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Little Fockers begs the question, why was this movie even made? Outside of an easy cash grab, what was the point of it? It’s not like there was any meaningful story left to continue. Even the cast seems to be at a loss and no longer appears to be having any fun. Just as they’re likely questioning their integrity, the audience is questioning its patronage toward this sinking franchise.

I was not much a fan of Meet the Parents (2000) or Meet the Fockers (2004), but as far as sitcom-level humor goes, they at least served a purpose and went somewhere. Little Fockers is below sitcom-level and scrambles around looking for conflict. It’s so clueless about fresh and funny comedy that it merely resorts to recycling the same jokes from the first two movies, which were pretty standard to begin with. How many times must we endure Jack Byrnes (Robert DeNiro), the stereotypical movie father-in-law, telling his son-in-law, Greg (Ben Stiller), “I’m watching you, Focker,” before pointing at him and staring him down with a disapproving look? We’ve been there and done that. It’s time to move on.

We’re actually asking the same question about a lot of would-be jokes in the movie. How many times will Jack’s wife, Dina (Blythe Danner), and daughter, Pam (Teri Polo), act clueless about Jack’s psychotic tendencies to spy on people? How many times will the movie use this as a basis for its humor? How many times will the script paint Kevin (Owen Wilson) as the golden boy just to make Greg look inferior (and how many times will the others not think there’s something creepy about him)? How many times will Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Roz (Barbara Streisand) Focker tell embarrassing sex and masturbation stories? And how many times will Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba), the attractive new drug rep at Greg’s hospital, make a pass at Greg before he realizes what she’s doing?




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The movie is downright idiotic and we feel so much smarter than the characters in it that it becomes insulting. It’s filled with all the usual stupid coincidences and misunderstandings that could easily be solved with simple explanations but which no one ever bothers to give. At this point in the franchise, the jokes are desperate and everybody on-screen seems to know this, yet they go along with them anyway, which just makes the whole experience awkward. We’re watching a cast perform material they don’t really believe in.

As far as plot goes, I guess you could say it’s about how Jack wants Greg to be the new “Godfocker” of the family. Because Jack has been having heart problems, and even has to defibrillate himself, he’s not sure he’s going to be around much longer and wants to make sure his family is taken care of. That involves making sure Greg and Pam’s twins receive the best education from an expensive school and grow up in a good home, preferably one with a backyard big enough to throw a birthday party in. The latter gives Harvey Keitel the chance to make a lame appearance as a construction worker, but this was probably just done so the studio could brag it paired DeNiro and Keitel in a movie together.

This is really just a lousy comedy. I didn’t laugh once during it, which is surprising since it was directed by the often reliable Paul Weitz, whose credits include American Pie and In Good Company. But by directing a franchise this late in the game, Weitz was pretty much jumping aboard a sinking ship. It’s not like the series had a whole lot of places to go. The first two movies were directed by Jay Roach, who now only gets a producer credit. I don’t know how involved Roach actually was in this picture, but because his name isn’t being headlined, I have a feeling he was only involved in it by name alone, as he probably felt the material had run out of gas. If only the cast felt the same way, then everyone, including the audience, could have been spared.


     


 
 

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