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Meet the Fockers - Widescreen  (2004)


Rating: PG-13

Distributor: Universal Studios Home Video

Release Date: April 26, 2005
Review posted: April 27, 2005


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




Domestic disaster looms for male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) when his straight-laced, ex-CIA father-in-law Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) asks to meet his wildly unconventional mom and dad (Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman). It's family bonding gone hysterically haywire.




Meet the Fockers was very funny the first time I saw it. It happened at a test screening some three or four months before its theatrical release. Seeing the movie in a crowed theater with a fairly young crowd lightened up the viewing experience. Any movie can seem good with the right audience, the same happened to me with Tomcats (if you can even remember that one). Both movies felt completely different after the second viewing.


The case with Meet the Fockers is simple. The comedy is more or less recycled, especially the ongoing joke about Greg's last name. Robert DeNiro returns with his strict and mean spirit, the character is not as effective here as he was in the first movie. In fact, Jack is kind of a son of a bitch. Much of the story again focuses on Greg trying to impress Jack, but this time he feels embarrassed by his parents, who are kind of weird but also somewhat loveable. Greg lies about his dad's profession and tries to hide his mom's work (she's a sex therapist). In short, Greg is quite insecure, which doesn't give Ben Stiller much to work with, his character becoming weaker as the movie goes along. This sequel pretty much plays with the same formula and it's getting tired while watching the movie.


Granted, there are some good moments and jokes, but seeing the movie again made me realize how most of the comedy is not genuine or fun but more along the lines of embarrassing, cheap and over the top. Yes, Hoffman and Streisand have fun with their roles, but their characters are also pretty one-dimensional. The most notable flaw is the script does almost nothing with the characters played by Teri Polo and Blythe Danner. Yes, there are two subplots concerning them, such as Pam's pregnancy and her mother trying to be affectionate with Jack (but getting rejected), yet they are pushed to the back as the main subplot revolves around the possibility that Greg may have a teenage soon. Moreover, the script places a lot of emphasis on the baby which Jack is now nurturing. The screenwriters make it perform sign language, head butt Greg, and utter the word "asshole" at least fifteen times. The baby is cute and the situations happening around it produce some funny moments.


While the first movie was original, but this sequel tries too hard to have fun over a weekend in Miami with a set of (essentially) wacky characters. The DVD offers an extended version of the movie by adding some fifteen minutes of footage to the existing hour and fifty-five minutes running time. Scroll down to the "extras" for more on the deleted scenes shown in the extended version.




Universal presents Meet the Fockers in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors look clean and well saturated. Print quality is quite good except for some specks and a little bit of grain. There is evidence of edge enhancement early in the movie but then it disappears. Sharpness and detail are decent, but other small flaws exist. Not the best transfer from Universal. English captions are available, as are Spanish and French subtitles.




Universal presents Meet the Fockers in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, with the front speakers delivering noise free audio. The music or sound effects are mostly spread across the front speakers but some of the surrounds become active during certain moments. Overall it's a good presentation that doesn't offer anything special in terms of surround sound. Spanish and French Dolby 5.1 dub tracks are also available.




Deleted Scenes (15:36) contain about twenty scenes, some of which are extensions while others are new scenes. A lot of these aren't that good and wisely got cut as they would've dragged down the movie even more (at two hours it's already a long comedy). One extension occurs during the dinner scene when Greg tries to snatch away the Focker family album from his mom and a certain skin goes airborne. This new footage is pretty ridiculous and makes the scene even more unpleasant. The scenes also play via the extended version feature.


Bloopers (11:03) is a pretty large collection of laughs and line screw-ups by DeNiro, Stiller, Hoffman, Streisand and Teri Polo. Some of the bloopers are genuinely funny but the majority of them is just the actors cracking up and having a good time (presumably). As for us viewers, it becomes a bit boring. This extra should've been cut in half to avoid becoming blooper overkill.


Inside the Litter Box (4:03) is a faux featurette with interviews from the crew (including director Jay Roach) on Jinx the cat. Lots of behind-the-scenes footage is shown but ultimately this extra is nothing special.


The Manary Gland (3:06) is a discussion about the conception and research of the "manary gland" worn by DeNiro's character. This is no enlightening extra either.


The audio commentary by director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll is decent at best. They share some stories about what happened on the set, some of the stuff is funny, but they tend to analyze the on-screen action too much. This commentary is only available for the theatrical cut of the movie. Unless you really love this movie, this track isn't really worth listening to.


Fockers' Family Portrait is an interview gallery divided into three parts focusing on Bernie (2:22), Hoffman talks about his character and other things, Roz (1:47), Streisand talks about how she got involved with the film and more, and Greg (1:53), Stiller about this and that.


Adventures of a Baby Wrangler (5:34) features Rhonda Sherman, who worked with the baby twins, in an interview in which she explains the process of working with babies, citing some good examples. A nice extra.


Matt Lauer Meets the Fockers (7:58) is a segment of the Today Show in which Lauer interviews the major cast members who sit on family home couches talking about the movie and their experiences on the set. There's some nice stuff here such as stories and laughs. Overall a decent extra.


NBC's Scrubs "Training Day" (2:31) is an extended commercial for the show. It's got a funny spin and some good moments. I've never seen the show, but this clip got me excited about the first season DVD release in May, which is perhaps the reason why this extra is even included here, or Universal just wants to pimp its recently acquired network.




Meet the Fockers has some enjoyable moments, but the comedy is mostly recycled and the script lacks punch. Despite a weak script the actors give it their best, which makes the movie generally watchable but not wholly likeable. A third Fockers adventure is not needed, I don't think.




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