Monday, April 4, 2011

953. Meet the Parents (2000)

Running Time: 108 minutes
Directed By: Jay Roach
Written By: Jim Herzfeld, John Hamburg
Main Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner


It's clean-up week here on the 1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die, meaning I'm trying my best to take care of some of the easier films to get through, just to clear them out of the way. I had seen "Meet the Parents" several times prior to this viewing and have always considered it a guilty pleasure. After a re-watch, I'm not so guilty anymore.

Ben Stiller is Greg Focker, a male nurse who is head over heels in love with Pam Burns (Polo). Greg has everything in place to pop the big question, when he finds out that Pam's sister's new fiance went the route of asking the father's permission. Greg decides it would be proper for him to do the same, so Pam and Greg head out for a weekend with the Burns'. Everything starts out well enough for Greg as he meets Jack (De Niro) and Dina Burns (Danner). Greg is under the impression that Jack is a retired rare flower specialist - but in actuality Jack is an ex-CIA man, which Greg finds out when Jack hooks him up to a polygraph machine on his first night. From here everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, as Greg destroys the urn that holds Jack's mother's ashes, lets out the beloved family house cat, causes the septic tank to backup into the yard and starts a fire that ultimately burns down the newly built alter for Pam's sister Debbie's wedding. Greg also has the "pleasure" of meeting Pam's ex-fiance Kevin.


The thing that I've always enjoyed about "Meet the Parents" is the awkwardness that Ben Stiller is able to portray. I think a lot of us have been in a situation where we've had to go and meet the parents of the girl or guy we'd fallen in love with and it's a very nervous situation for everyone. Therefore, I think we can all relate to the character of Greg Focker and furthermore it makes "Meet the Parents" a realistic comedy. I also give kudos to "Meet the Parents" for being a comedy made in the 21st century that didn't have an overload of profanity and was actually charming and clever, instead of cheap and classless.

Another great thing about "Meet the Parents" is the chemistry that De Niro and Stiller are able to conjure up and they really nailed their roles perfectly. Greg is as nervous around Jack, as I'm sure Stiller was as nervous working with De Niro. De Niro seemed like he was just having a lot of fun and maybe that was the secret to the success of De Niro in this film. He just went out there and let loose and knew that there wasn't going to be any seriousness and he was just gonna' be able to have some fun and I think it shows. As far as Stiller goes, I actually used to really dislike the guy for what seems like no reason at all, in retrospect. Today I really like the guy and think that it's a shame that he's gotten stuck with the stinkers of films he's been in. In my view, "Meet the Parents" is the shining achievement in acting for Stiller and probably his greatest comedy venture.

For those curious, I have seen "Meet the Fockers", but only once and I barely remember it, which means it probably wasn't that great. I have not seen "Little Fockers" and really have no desire to, because I suspect it would only be worse and I'd rather leave "Meet the Parents" as a good memory in my mind.

RATING: 7/10 Short and sweet. As I mentioned above, I'm just trying to clear out some of the riff raff, so that we can get to some "meat and potatoes" movies. However, Antonioni week is coming soon.


April 4, 2011 12:38pm

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