Friday, December 31, 2010

Movie Review: Little Fockers

Little Fockers **
Directed by:
Paul Weitz.
Written By: John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey.
Starring: Robert De Niro (Jack Byrnes), Ben Stiller (Greg Focker), Owen Wilson (Kevin Rawley), Dustin Hoffman (Bernie Focker), Erika Jensen (Party Parent), Barbra Streisand (Roz Focker), Blythe Danner (Dina Byrnes), Teri Polo (Pam Focker), Jessica Alba (Andi Garcia), Laura Dern (Prudence), Kevin Hart (Nurse Louis), Daisy Tahan (Samantha Focker), Colin Baiocchi (Henry Focker), Thomas McCarthy (Dr. Bob), Harvey Keitel (Randy Weir).

Meet the Parents was an amusing comedy - playing wonderfully off of Robert DeNiro’s tough guy image, as he plays the father in law from hell, and capitalizing on Ben Stiller, then just emerging as a movie star, on his terrific slow burn of barely suppressed rage. It was a hit because it was well written and funny - and felt relatable to anyone who has ever had to meet the parents of someone they are dating (which is pretty much everyone). The sequel, Meet the Fockers, was less successful, relying on more zany characters as Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand joined the cast as Stiller’s new age, embarrassingly over loving parents. Yet, it was still an amusing comedy. Now we come to the third film - Little Fockers - and this time it seems like everyone is simply going through the motions. There is no logical movie why this movie needed to be made. With a cast this great - and it truly is a stacked cast - there are some amusing moments. But the movie is lazy writing, lazy direction and far too many of the actors seem to be phoning it in. It is time for the Fockers to go away.

It has been a few years since Meet the Fockers - Greg (Stiller) and Pam (Teri Polo) have had twins, and they are about to celebrate their fifth birthday. Jack (Denier) is concerned about what will happen to the Byrnes clan when he dies - he has had a mild heart attack, and his other son in law, is divorcing his daughter following an affair. Greg is the only choice left for a strong male leader for the family. Greg, of course, still wants to impress his father in law - still is looking for his approval, and does everything he can to win it. With the Byrnes coming to visit for a few days, Greg tries so hard - and of course everything that can go wrong, does.

Little Fockers is simply a lazy movie. Little effort seems to have been made in the writing of the movie - the jokes are stale and have been used far too often in the series to this point, and are simply being recycled at this point. The actors have played these roles before, and at times appear to be bored. DeNiro’s Jack Byrnes, which was always a caricature has become increasingly unbelievable throughout the series. And Stiller’s repressed rage has grown tired. The actors have some moments when they can still generate some laughs, but they are few and far between. A few new characters add little to the movie - Harvey Keitel is completely wasted as a contractor. Jessica Alba tries really hard, and is quite amusing at times - but finally goes too far over the top in what was supposed to be her big comedic scene (it isn’t really her fault, it was a very poorly written scene).

Little Fockers is hardly a painful experience. But it isn’t really an enjoyable one either. It plays like a sub par sitcom - one that you want to like, but simply cannot because the jokes are stale, and the performances don’t really do anything to make the material worthwhile. It just sits there on the screen waiting to end.

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