Meet the Fockers

Some say that there are no original ideas in Hollywood. When there's a successful movie, other movies copy it. Often, the filmmakers get together to make a sequel, not because the original merits one, but because it's great for their pocketbooks. Meet the Parents is a great example. The first was genuinely funny. It left the door wide open for a sequel, but works just as fine without one. Yet, here it is. And just as expected, it is not as funny. It takes everything that worked in the original and beats it to death. Again, everybody makes fun of the name Gaylord Focker, and again, Ben Stiller is the butt of every humiliating joke possible. It's getting old.

Meet the Fockers picks up shortly after Meet the Parents. As its name implies, the now audiences can meet Greg "Gaylord" Focker's (Stiller, Anchorman, Dodgeball) parents, Bernie (Dustin Hoffman, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Finding Neverland) and Roz (Barbara Streisand, The Mirror Has Two Faces, The Prince of Tides). The addition of Hoffman and Streisand, especially the latter, is amusing. It gives the film a powerful cast, but unfortunately gives them nothing to do. Bernie is a touchy-feely stay-at-home dad, and Roz is a sex therapist who specializes in senior citizens. In other words, they are the exact opposite of Jack (Robert De Niro, Shark Tale, Godsend) and Dina (Blythe Danner, Sylvia, 3 Days of Rain).

The Byrnes' make their way down to the Fockers to get to know each other and plan the wedding. Tagging along with Greg and Pam (Teri Polo, Beyond Borders, Domestic Disturbance) is Jack's grandson Little Jack (Spencer and Bradley Pickerin) and their cat. All of the same jokes pop up. The cat still flushes the toilet, and Jack is still paranoid that Greg is lying to him and Pam. All sorts of misunderstandings will occur that make Greg look worse than he actually is, and Bernie and Roz will embarrass Greg in as many ways as humanly possible.

Director Jay Roach (Austin Powers in Goldmember, Meet the Parents) and screenwriters John Hamburg (Along Came Polly), Jim Herzfeld (Meet the Parents) and Marc Hyman (The Perfect Score, Osmosis Jones) simply try too hard. Again, anybody can see the jokes coming a mile away, but the fun is gone, replaced by a sense of ruthless efficiency. There are only so many times one can tell the same joke, and Roach easily surpasses the limit. Stiller plays the same character he does in every film, and Polo and Danner have nothing to do. Streisand is great because she blows away any stereotype of her being a prissy actress and really lets loose. This isn't a bad movie, it's just the same movie.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 54 minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, and a brief drug reference.

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