Little Fockers

5 Jan

Title: Little Fockers
Year:
2010
Director:
Paul Weitz
Writers:
John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey, based on the characters by Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke
Starring:
Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Jessica Alba, Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content
Runtime:
98 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
5.4
Rotten Tomatoes:
10%

 

When Meet the Parents came out in 2000 I fell absolutely in love with the film. I thought it was one of the funniest things I saw in all that year, and showed why Ben Stiller was just so damn good at uncomfortable comedy. And audiences responded alike, the film was a critical success that also did great at the box office, making over $330 million on a $55 million budget.

A sequel was then a given, and so we got Meet the Fockers in 2004, with Jay Roach still directing and the main cast members being joined by newcomers Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand, who played the parents of Mr. Stiller’s character and were simply golden. That film wasn’t nearly as great as Meet the Parents was, but I thought still had a bunch of amusing moments that were worth the price of admission, and at least it still was a commercial success, making over $515 million on an $80 million budget.

So with that sort of commercial success with the franchise I guess a third installment was a given for Universal. And so here we are, six years laters and getting Little Fockers, with Paul Weitz taking over the director’s chair. And if Meet the Fockers was a decline from the first one, then this one’s an even larger decline from the second one. Seriously, this is by far the worst installment in the saga, but then again, it will surely still prove profitable at the box office, it already has made over $130 million with under two weeks in release.

But still, commercial success or not, Little Fockers is a film that, through its entirety, feels horribly unnecessary. All the main players come back, Mr. Hoffman who had initially turned down an offer was even coerced to come back and shoot six scenes to make it funnier (though to little or no avail), and there are a few new faces even, with Jessica Alba, Laura Dern and Harvey Keitel all joining the party. But still, not even this all-star cast could do anything with such uninspired material. A real pity.

I won’t fail Little Fockers, if anything because I thought Meet the Parents was such a masterful comedic work, but this one just degrades the fond memories I have with these characters, and if they go ahead and make a fourth entry in the franchise, then that will seriously be the end of it as far as I’m concerned. This is a film in which the real plot takes a really long time to fully engage us, and the funny bits are few and far between, if ever there.

Here’s the thing, Meet the Parents was far an out a seriously fantastic comedy, probably one of the twenty best released in all of the past decade, and Meet the Fockers still had some really funny moments. And that’s because Ben Stiller is the man in these sort of comedies, in which we get to laugh at his expense, and because Robert De Niro proved to be a very good actor for him to play along with. However, the fact is that now in Little Fockers, instead of the writers thinking some equally good stuff for them to riff off, they got lazy and decided to give the titular kiddies of the film do some of the funny stuff. And funny, it wasn’t.

I guess I’m just a bit bummed that after a sensationally good New Year’s holiday, I come back home and decide to kick off my movie 2011 with this film and the result was so disappointing. We get Jack, Mr. De Niro’s character, coming to terms with the fact that he’s getting older and older, and considering bestowing upon Greg, Mr. Stiller’s character, the honor of becoming the new family patriarch. And that’s really the story, and the funny bits in it suck, because before it was awesome to laugh at the situations Greg was put in, and at how Jack saw him while they happened, now the material they’re given to work with is so much worse, and they’re not even putting that much energy into making anything more out of it.

If you can avoid Little Fockers, I’d advice you to do it. But then again, if you’ve seen the first two, and thought they were quite good, you’ll probably want to see this one, and I understand that because I really did too, no matter how bad anyone said it was. But really, this just feels unnecessary, especially the introduction of Ms. Alba’s character who was the worst part of the film by far (though to be fair Ms. Dern, another newcomer, was also one of the best parts). So yes, go see it if you feel you must, but I doubt you’ll come out thinking that was a well spent hour and a half.

Grade: C-

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