If it's crap ... We'll tell you
This series of “Focker” films (which began in 2000 with “Meet The Parents”) has played out a lot like the longevity of hearing the name
Gaylord Focker. The first time, you get a mild chuckle; “Meet The Parents” was
a pretty fun movie to watch. However, the second time around seems a lot less
funny (as with “Meet The Fockers”). As you can guess, the third time is where
it starts to get into annoying territory. Now imagine hearing Robert DeNiro’s
character Jack Byrnes spouting immortal lines such as “Godfocker” throughout
the third installment, “Little Fockers.” Say it ain’t so.
After reading on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes that only seven percent (currently at ten percent as I am writing this) of all film
critics gave a positive review to the film, my heart lit right up. I felt
obligated to witness it for myself. I mean, critics DO have to make a Bottom 10
list, right? While “Little Fockers” is unquestionably a thumbs down for me, I
simply do not have the antipathy to consider it one of the top ten worst of the
year. For its overly long 98-minutes, I may have been yawning but I was never
actually cringing with disgust. Well, except for a moment “within the credits”
where they poke fun at the remix craze that is running rampant on YouTube. That
was pretty bad.
So in a way, this was kind of a wasted movie experience for me. I do not have the chance to severely lash out at the film. I cannot
completely rip it apart as much as I can say that I saw it and did not like it.
Man, what a double-edged lightsaber this movie criticism industry is, huh?
The story is that after Jack experiences cardiac arrest, he comes to grips with his inevitable mortality; he isn’t going to be around
forever to hold his family together. Therefore, he offers his bad-luck magnet
of a son-in-law Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) the responsibilities of being his
successor, or the “Godfocker.” Unfortunately Greg, being the ridiculous jinx
that he is, cannot help but make him have cold feet on his decision.
For example, Jack begins to suspect that Greg is cheating on his wife Pam (Teri Polo) with an attractive pharmaceutical representative
named Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba). Or what about when Greg tries to cut a turkey
himself and ends up slicing his finger? Or when he is trying to induct his
five-year-old twins (the little Fockers referred to in the title) to a
prestigious school run by a character played by Laura Dern, only to end in
disastrous results? The guy is so clumsy that by comparison, Pam’s ex-boyfriend
Kevin (Owen Wilson) is looking like a spotless porcelain doll.
Look, anyone who has seen either “Meet The Parents” or “Meet The Fockers” knows what they are getting into with this sequel: a bunch
of painfully awkward scenes of screwing up courtesy of Ben Stiller’s character.
This series has been played out to where every individual setpiece has become
as predictable as generic romantic comedy lore. Only this time, they feel much
too forced and/or uninspired.
You see, this formula cannot be dead yet. I still stand by my positive review of “Dinner For Schmucks,” which was directed by the same Jay
Roach who has producing credits on this movie. No, “Little Fockers” is just a
lazy attempt to take for granted the previous success of the first two movies.
Not only does the comedy generally miss the mark, but also the story is
predictable from the start. Even the pacing seems to be strangely languid for a
broad comedy. It is not that these aspects are bad to the point of being
horrendous. They are more ineptly misaligned if anything.
This will be sure to garner a ton of money in its opening weeks at the box office, but if I were to throw in my two cents, I would say to
save it for something actually worth your time. For all you know, the
magnificent “Black Swan” could be playing in an adjacent theater. All I can
hope for is that, like the joke in Family
Guy where Peter trips over the sidewalk kneeling in agony for a
minute straight, that these films will become funnier just because of the fact
that they are still keeping it up. Might that procedure work with the name
VERDICT: 2 out of 4
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