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Family-patriarch Jack Byrnes wants to appoint a successor. Does his son-in-law, the "male nurse", Greg Focker have what it takes?
For more about Little Fockers and the Little Fockers Blu-ray release, see Little Fockers Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 21, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Paul Weitz
Writers: John Hamburg, Larry Stuckey
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Jessica Alba
» See full cast & crew
Little Fockers Blu-ray Review
"So I have to ask you, Greg. Are you prepared to be... the Godfocker?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 21, 2011
The Godfocker? "It's an attitude, Greg. It's a confidence. It's the way you carry yourself that lets the world know the buck stops with you." Cue Robert De Niro pointing to a cheesy photo of Ben Stiller with "Gaylord Focker, R.N." printed neatly beneath it. It isn't Little Fockers' first "Focker" gag, and it certainly isn't its last. We're expected to laugh, of course, because it's Vito Corleone himself who spits out the term "Godfocker." But it's actually the first real sign of trouble in an obnoxiously redundant franchise outing sure to be followed by The Hurt Focker, Where the Red Focker Grows and Fockers, Meet the Sheetings. That's right, dear readers. The Byrnes and the Fockers are back for more vowel play, swapping o's for u's as if the joke hadn't already been exhausted in filmmaker Jay Roach's outrageously funny Meet the Parents and grown tiresome in its shaky 2004 sequel, Meet the Fockers. Roach's A-list cast is back for more as well, albeit without their commander in chief. Though still a producer, Roach passes the Parents torch to hit-or-miss director Paul Weitz, whose About a Boy was one of the best films of 2002 and whose Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant was one of the worst films of 2009. Unfortunately, Weitz fails on several fronts, screenwriters John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey come up empty-handed, and the series' Focker wordplay isn't the only thing that grows stale.
Remember Dr. Robert Banks (Tom McCarthy, The Wire)? The Byrnes' favorite son-in-law? Seems Dr. Bob wasn't the man family-patriarch and former CIA agent Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro, The Godfather: Part II) thought he was. Needless to say, Jack doesn't take the news so well and suffers from a minor heart attack. Before you can glumly chirp "change of heart," Jack is on the phone with his on-again, off-again nemesis, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller, Greenberg, asking if the oft-scorned male nurse will step up and lead the Byrnes clan should anything happen to daddy dearest. Unfortunately, Jack's confidence in eternally misunderstood Greg falters after a chance encounter leaves him with the mistaken impression that Greg is having a torrid affair with an erectile dysfunction drug rep named Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba, Machete). Once again, Jack sets his sights on putting a wedge between Greg and his daughter Pam (Teri Polo, The Hole) and reuniting his firstborn with her former flame, the wealthy and eccentric Kevin Rawley (Owen Wilson, Hall Pass). Caught in Jack's web, Greg fights to prove his worth, get his kids into the prestigious Early Human School (the "Harvard of kindergartens" as Pam describes it), resist the advances of the silver-tongued Ms. Garcia and keep his family strong.
Little Fockers' jokes fall flatter and flatter at a dishearteningly alarming rate. The fact that Greg's poor kids are continually caught between their father and grandfather's scorched-earth skirmish doesn't help. Jack's attempts at marriage-assassination are just hiiiilarious with the well-being of two innocent tykes at stake, and Greg isn't exactly husband or father-of-the-year material either. The mediocrity doesn't end there. Greg's parents (returning co-stars Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand) are wasted in subplots that sideline both characters for the better part of the film, Pam and her mother (Blythe Danner) may as well be set dressing, and Greg's dangerous dance with Andi is ugly and irritating, not amusing. (Alba makes it even more unbearable, justifying every ounce of the Golden Raspberry Award she nabbed for her performance.) Wilson earns his keep -- scoring the only solid laughs to be had -- but even Kevin's nuttiest exploits wear out their welcome long before he busts out a bedazzled blue and gold leotard.
Instead of pushing the Fockers and the Byrnes in interesting new directions, Hamburg and Stuckey hedge their comedy bets on erectile dysfunction, elite private schools, penile injections, projectile vomit, a wacky school headmaster (Laura Dern, Jurassic Park) and, more than anything else, rehashed hijinks and mischief from Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers. Why not dabble in role reversal? Jack, now a grandfather at the twilight of his life, turns into a big softy, leaving Greg with little choice but to lay down the Focker law. Or toy with the difficulties families face when middle-aged adults inevitably have to begin parenting their parents? Jack, insisting he's been reinstated by the CIA to complete one last mission, leaves Greg scrambling to determine whether Byrnes is on legitimate assignment or growing senile in his old age. But no, Little Fockers and its gags du jour aren't fresh, functional or funny, and nowhere near as effective as those that made Meet the Parents such a treat. Weitz doesn't even juggle the film's half-dozen lead actors (or their supporting cast, for that matter) with any level of finesse, a key ingredient to Meet the Fockers' limited charm.
Even the most forgiving Focker fans will be left wanting; a real shame considering the level of talent Weitz, Hamburg and Stuckey have to work with. Hoffman and Streisand's appearances reek of scheduling conflicts and reshoots, and their largely isolated performances suffer accordingly. De Niro and Stiller pound on the same note again and again, making their third-act, moon-bounce tussle a welcome relief from the monotony. And the kids? Weitz may have been eager to work with tots but, as is the case with a shaky marriage, adding a few kids into the mix doesn't solve the series' nagging issues, it only exacerbates them. (To their credit, young Daisy Tahan and Colin Baiocchi do a fine job, despite what little Weitz, Hamburg and Stuckey toss their way.) Little Fockers isn't cute or clever, wild or witty. It trips over its own two feet, stumbles across the screen, and fails to live up to the film that started it all.
Little Fockers Blu-ray, Video Quality
Hot and heavy, Little Fockers' 1080p/VC-1 transfer makes the most of director of photography Remi Adefarasin's bronzed skintones, burnt sienna primaries and overheated palette. Color and contrast isn't consistent (low-lit interior scenes are dull and a tad murky), but they are fairly consistent with Weitz and Adefarasin's intentions. Likewise, black levels are oppressive, but only insofar as the filmmakers push them to be. Otherwise, the image is satisfying, offering plenty of crisp, well-resolved textures, refined edges and particularly pleasing closeups. From the files and photos adorning Jack's lair to the artwork hanging on the walls in Greg's office, everything is dutifully rendered without many technical hitches. It isn't perfect -- a few soft shots distract and some rather glaring ringing appears from time to time -- but it amounts to a small hiccup at best. Artifacting, banding, aliasing and the like are nowhere to be found, and intermittent oversaturation is the only other flaw worth noting. Little Fockers isn't pretty, but its high definition presentation is pretty good.
Little Fockers Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track slips into a familiar genre rut, but it isn't entirely unexpected. Stephen Trask's mischievous score takes advantage of the entire soundfield, filling each channel with playful percussion and toe-tapping rhythms. Unfortunately, the music -- the most immersive aspect of the mix -- surges at the expense of dialogue clarity. Voices, while clean and clear on the whole, are sometimes forced to compete with Trask's score. And they don't always come out on top. (The opening sequence alone suffers from an unnecessary tug-of-war between Stiller and Polo's morning farewells and the film's main theme.) Luckily, it isn't a prevailing problem and only crops up on occasion. LFE output is noteworthy, the rear speakers aren't aggressive by any means but they are sufficiently engaging, and directionality, though somewhat careless early on, proves to be suitably convincing as Greg and Jack inch toward their final showdown. If anything, Little Fockers is yet another chatty, front-heavy comedy with a chatty, front-heavy track. It isn't disappointing, it isn't amazing; it's simply a serviceable genre mix sure to appease series fans.
Little Fockers Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray release of Little Fockers doesn't offer much in the way of supplemental content -- a few deleted scenes, a handful of behind-the-scenes quickies and a smattering of additional extras, all presented in high definition -- but its special features are appreciated nonetheless.
Little Fockers Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I was hoping for a reinvention, I suppose; an evolution of the formula that made Meet the Parents one of 2000's more memorable comedies. Instead, Little Fockers delivers more of the same, and even does that poorly. Universal's Blu-ray release is much better, but not enough to justify a blind buy. Its video transfer, though flawed, is the highlight of the release. Its DTS-HD Master Audio track, though bound to the conventions of the genre, does a decent job with what it's given. And its supplemental package, though short and stilted, still has enough content to entertain Focker fiends. I would stick with a rental, but if you can't get your fill of Focker feuding, Universal's Blu-ray release will scratch your itch.
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Little Fockers Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Little Fockers Blu-ray Announced - February 16, 2011
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced Little Fockers for Blu-ray release on April 5, in a BD/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack (BD and DVD in separate discs). This third entry of the Fockers series (after Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers) earned $147 ...
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