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Meet the Fockers(2004)
Now that Greg Focker is "in" with his soon-to-be in-laws, Jack and Dina Byrnes, it looks like smooth sailing for him and his fiancé, Pam. But that's before Pam's parents meet Greg's parents, Bernie and Roz Focker. The hyper-relaxed Fockers and the tightly-wound Byrneses are woefully mismatched from the start, and no matter how hard Greg and Pam try, there is just no bringing their families together.
For more about Meet the Fockers and the Meet the Fockers Blu-ray release, see Meet the Fockers Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 2, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Jay Roach
Writers: Jim Herzfeld (I), John Hamburg
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Teri Polo, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner
» See full cast & crew
Meet the Fockers Blu-ray Review
It's no Focking masterpiece, but what a Focking cast!
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 2, 2010
When last we left Greg—or is that Gaylord?—Focker (Ben Stiller), he had achieved a certain détente with his soon to be father-in-law, ex-CIA operative Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro). Greg/Gaylord was poised to marry Pam (Teri Polo), as Jack and his slightly batty wife Dina (Blythe Danner) looked on semi-approvingly. Happy ending, right? Well, maybe for that film, the often hilarious cultural clash comedy Meet the Parents. But if there's one thing box office success often guarantees, it's that happy endings are soon rent asunder by the lure of even more box office success with a sequel, and so next came Meet the Fockers, where the Byrnes parents got to interact with the Focker parents before the actual nuptials of Greg and Pam take place. This is a setup as old as time, or at least as old as situation comedy. Mismatched sets of in-laws have been a staple of any number of television and film properties, some of them quite aptly including "in-law" in their title, as in the very funny two season NBC comedy The Mothers-in-Law and Arthur Hiller's hysterical 1979 film The In-Laws. In fact that 1979 film may well have been at least a partial inspiration for Meet the Fockers as it, too, featured a secret CIA operative whose clandestine job skills wreaked havoc on what should have been a domestically calm interaction. This second outing is a film that at least partially substitutes some judicious stunt casting (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as Stiller's folks) in the place of nuanced comedy writing. The good news is the characters here are still so sharply drawn, and the differences between them so outlandishly exaggerated, that there is still some comedy gold to be had, albeit a bit more fleetingly than in Meet the Parents.
Part of the fun of Meet the Fockers is seeing the powerhouse trio of De Niro, Hoffman and Streisand in what is really an ensemble comedy. De Niro is surprisingly sweet in his interactions with Jack's grandson, Little Jack, and his overbearing personality comes into play with the tot in some amusing ways. In fact if you've ever wanted to see De Niro wearing a fake latex boob, Meet the Fockers is your film. Even sweeter is the interplay between Streisand and Hoffman. The two actors knew each other in their hardscrabble early days in New York, and that long history shows in their very natural portrayal of a long married, but still deeply affectionate, couple. Playing the "Bohemian" to De Niro and Danner's completely uptight WASP couple also allows both of these icons a chance to let their hair down a little. Hoffman is loosey-goosey attorney Bernie Focker, and Streisand is amazingly (and amusingly) low key as sex therapist Roz. They have the ultra-left Jewish parent thing down pat, and it helps to give Meet the Fockers an added dose of both reality and hilarity.
Where Fockers goes occasionally awry is in its overwrought plot, which has Jack do everything from inject Greg with truth serum to Jinx the cat flushing the Fockers' little dog down an RV toilet. It's silly fun, to be sure, but it's too convoluted for the film's own good, drawing interest away from the sextet of characters themselves. Of course part and parcel of Jack's character is his tendency toward obsessive "fact finding" missions, so part of this is understandable. Still, Meet the Fockers is best when it focuses on the interplay between the two parental couples.
Somewhat lost in all of this craziness are both Blythe Danner and Teri Polo, much as they were in Meet the Parents. I'm not sure if it frosts Danner to be mostly thought of these days as Gwyneth Paltrow's mother, for she surely has a long and varied career of her own to be proud of. Her presence here is surprisingly nuanced, especially for such a raucous comedy film. Watch for example how she is able to convey so much—behind sunglasses no less—when Hoffman and Streisand engage in some marital mush mouthed affection. The regret and sadness Danner imparts about her own passionless marriage with Jack is remarkable. Polo also manages to eke out a nice beat or two, though she's strangely relegated to the background, both literally and figuratively, throughout much of the film. She does have a priceless moment toward the end of Meet the Fockers when Jack does not give up his daughter easily at the altar.
It will be interesting to see what Little Fockers, the newest installment of this franchise, has to offer when it hits cineplexes in the near future. There was still enough good material in Fockers to help it overcome some of its shortcomings, but the seams were definitely beginning to show in this second outing. Stunt casting can only solve so many problems, no matter how amazing it might be. With the emphasis on the kids in this upcoming film, that may be harder than ever. As it stands, Meet the Fockers provides some great moments for Hoffman, Streisand and De Niro, all playing more or less against type (or at least preconceptions), and all foregoing their "star" status to work in an ensemble comedy format where none of them gets to hog all the glory. That alone makes this film something at least a little unusual and worthy of, in Bernie Focker's words, a little love.
Meet the Fockers Blu-ray, Video Quality
Meet the Fockers has a problematic Blu-ray transfer, courtesy of a VC-1 encoded 1080p image in 1.85:1. The best thing about this image are the astoundingly vivid and gorgeously saturated colors. Hoffman's bright red shirt is a wonder to behold, and it never radiates into blooming territory. The Florida locales look very lush, with wonderful teals and turquoses, and the kaleidoscope of party umbrellas during the closing wedding scene are also quite beautiful. But, oh, what edge enhancement and other artifacts! When Jack holds up the little graphic signs for Little Jack's edification, ugly white halos surround the black lines. There's rampant edge enhancement throughout the film, and over and over we get a lot of shimmer on things like De Niro's salt and pepper hair, as well as moire and aliasing on things like Jack's blue pin striped sport coat. If you can get past that (and it's frankly not always easy to), this Blu-ray sports a nicely sharp image with good fine detail, decent grain structure, excellent depth of field, and very good contrast. But it's the colors that will probably linger in memory as being the best thing about this transfer.
Meet the Fockers Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As in Meet the Parents, we're given a perfectly serviceable lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that simply doesn't have a lot of opportunity to strut its stuff. There's certainly decent enough surround activity, within the confines of a dialogue driven comedy, but it's limited to things like the roar of an RV panning through the soundfield, or party noises at a nightclub. Otherwise, we have excellent fidelity during the talking scenes, with everything crystal clear and easy to hear, anchored solidly in the front channels. It's hard to get very worked up about a sound mix like this, but there's certainly nothing wrong in any way with this DTS track. It does its job absolutely professionally, with no problems to report.
Meet the Fockers Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Meet the Fockers has a slightly less filling array of supplements than did Meet the Parents:
Meet the Fockers Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The law of diminishing returns hasn't quite caught up with Meet the Fockers. The stellar cast provides a wealth of great little comedy bits which help this film to get past some patently ridiculous, and at times less than hilarious, moments. This Blu-ray transfer has some image issues, though, so you may want to rent it first to check it out. The film itself, though, is Recommended.
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Meet the Fockers Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Universal Announces Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers Blu-ray - September 9, 2010
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that, on November 30, it will release the Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro 2000 comedy hit Meet the Parents and its even more successful 2004 sequel Meet the Fockers. They will be presented in single-sided (non-flipper) ...
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