Meet The Fockers could be a remake of Meet The Parents since both films riff off the same hym sheet, yet despite the similarities, the consistent laughs make it worthwhile.
Meet The Parents’ success was bound to get the studio execs’ pulses racing for more De Niro misfortune at the hands of a hapless Ben Stiller, and the two leads were all too happy to oblige a second round. Jay Roach, director of the first film and the Austin Powers films was also on hand to provide his ‘action, cut, check the gate’ skills, and the component parts were in place. Yet sequels can be by-the-numbers/join the dots affairs, relegating any sense of quality in favour of shrewd marketing and an easy pay cheque. But Meet The Fockers jumps over this hurdle faster than you can say “kitty toilet training” with some inspired casting. Enter Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as Ben Stiller’s parents and you have the seeds for comedy gold.
Meet The Fockers is set shortly after the events of the first film, as Pam (Teri Polo) and Greg (Ben Stiller) are beginning to make the preparations for their wedding. One important thing is left to do though, and that is for Pam’s parents to meet Greg’s. Of course, nothing can go swimmingly in the family of Focker’s and it quickly becomes apparent that Greg’s laid-back father and Pam’s uptight Dad aren’t quite going to see eye to eye.
The film lives and breathes on the premise that two polar opposites stuck in a situation together equals disaster and in turn, frequent belly-laughs. Not a particularly original concept, indeed the first film did the very same thing, but Meet The Fockers has three actors clearly having so much fun that it is instilled in the audience and you can enjoy the ride with them. De Niro and Stiller reprise their roles perfectly but Dustin Hoffman is brilliant as Greg’s “just loves to say the wrong thing at the wrong time” Dad. Some might see the sequel as a partial remake of the original, as the plot is noticeably thin and outside of the four main leads, none of the other characters do much at all, but the film is consistently funny and seeing De Niro battle it out with Hoffman for who has the better comedy skills is great viewing. In my opinion though, much like in Barry Levinson’s Wag The Dog, Hoffman just shades it.