Review: Little Fockers
PLOT: A health scare leads family patriarch Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) to consider his son-in-law Gaylord Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) as the next-in-line to the family throne. Gaylord, desperate to once again win Jacks approval, tries to prove himself up to the task, while juggling his two kids, ignored wife (Teri Polo), and her one-time flame (Owen Wilson), and an amorous pharmaceutical representative (Jessica Alba) who wants Nurse Greg to be the spokesman for a new erectile dysfunction drug. Meanwhile, his own overbearing parents (Barbara Streisand, and Dustin Hoffman) also make their presence known.
REVIEW: Heres a phrase youll likely heard thrown around a lot over the next few weeks: LITTLE FOCKERS focking sucks! While I didnt expect much from this, the third MEET THE PARENTS film, I didnt expect it to be quite as amateurish and slap-dash as it ended up being. The first installment of the series was a cute comedy, but the second installment passed gas. That said, MEET THE FOCKERS is like a Billy Wilder film compared to this utter piece of crap, which I believe is the worst film Robert De Niro or Ben Stiller have ever appeared in (and yes, Ive seen ENVY).
Jay Roach, who directed the previous films, wisely opted out of a third go-round, but I guess De Niro and Stiller both wanted the big payday, so Paul Weitz, who once upon a time made good movies with his brother Chris (AMERICAN PIE, IN GOOD COMPANY, ABOUT A BOY) takes the helm here. Right off the bat, its obvious that all LITTLE FOCKERS is going to be is a bunch of recycled jokes from the first two films strung together by a clumsy plot (with De Niro once again being unsure is Stiller is a worthy addition to his family). Its incredible how shamelessly this steals from the last two films. Remember how the first two ended in chaotic weddings. Well, this one doesnt end with a wedding, but instead with an elaborate birthday party given for the titular LITTLE FOCKERS.
Or remember how in the second film De Niro was having problems satisfying his wife, played by Blythe Danner? Same problem here, resulting in a lame joke where De Niro takes too many of Stillers erectile drugs, and has to get a shot in his dangerously erect penis. Lame-o!
Even worse is a subplot with Jessica Alba, who were supposed to believe becomes instantly smitten with Stiller after helping him give an anal probe to an elderly patient (dont ask). Albas pretty, but shes not funny. Its interesting that Albas been quoted as saying good actors dont follow the script after working on LITTLE FOCKERS, as its obvious everyone here, especially De Niro and Stiller are just making shit up as they go along.
Luckily its all over in ninety minutes, but the film is such a mess it feels like twice that. I didnt laugh once, as all the jokes are all miserably weak. When the idea of comedy is to have Stiller be trapped in ball pit with De Niro hiding amongst the balls while the JAWS theme plays, you know this is going to be a long haul. Or how about a bit where teacher Laura Dern mistakes De Niro and Stiller for a couple. Didn't they do the same thing with John Stamos and Bob Saget on FULL HOUSE?
Another problem is that the film is totally jam-packed with extraneous characters. I mean, why is Owen Wilson in this movie? Sure, he was funny in the first film, but did his character really need to come back? Especially awkward is the shoe-horned in appearance of Dustin Hoffman. If youve been reading about FOCKERS troubled production, youll know that Hoffman wasnt originally in this film, until being added in at the last minute through re-shoots. This is why other than a few cut-ins from Spain (where hes finding himself), a brief rendezvous with Stiller and Streisand, and a tagged on ending, hes barely in it.
Even worse is the wasted opportunity of having Harvey Keitel appear in the film, opposite his old MEAN STREET cohort, De Niro. Sadly, they get only get one lame bit part together, which ends with De Niro buried under a pile of dirt. Hmm, that must have been what he felt like coming to work each day.
I really, really wish De Niro would get back to doing good films again, as its obvious the man still has the goods. His role in STONE (which Ill admit wasnt a perfect film) proved he can still be brilliant, but LITTLE FOCKERS is him slumming it in a big way. As for Stiller, it almost feels like he made a Faustian deal with the Devil to make GREENBERG, and this is the Devil coming to collect. Probably the only good thing to come out of LITTLE FOCKERS is that this will without a doubt be the last installment, as its bad enough that no one, not even the most undiscerning moviegoer, will be clamoring for a sequel after walking out of this train wreck. A Christmas miracle? Perhaps.
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