Meet The Fockers Review
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 breaths 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.
The image is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced. The picture is superb overall displaying the vibrant and colourful photography of the film superbly. Despite some very minor edge-enhancement on close inspection, it doesn’t distract too much, and sharpness and detail are excellent, with the print appearing to be in perfect condition.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track has a typical ‘comedy’ film soundtrack feel, with the majority of sound front orientated. Dialogue is particularly clear and well-separated across the front sound spectrum, but the soundstage as a whole rarely gets a good work-out.
Extended Version of the film - The DVD allows viewers to watch the film with deleted scenes added back into the movie. Accessing this feature, a small blue dog appears in the bottom corner of the screen delineating the start of an additional scene just before the scene starts playing. The problem with this feature is that there is an obvious pause before each scene, and the quality of the audio and video is un-mastered and non-anamorphic.
Feature length commentary with director Jay Roach and editor/co-producer Jon Poll - A dry track dominated by director Roach, this commentary is reasonably good in that Roach likes to discuss how the characters interact and how the comedy comes out of that interaction. There are some nice anecdotes, but ultimately the track is a little too dull and the film hardly demands such close inspection.
Inside the litter box: Behind the scenes with Jinx the cat - Running at approximately three minutes this misjudged featurette that tries to parody the usual ‘making-of’ by making Jinx the cat the star, doesn’t work and isn’t very funny. It’s saved by the one person featured within that can pull off such comedy – that being Ben Stiller, and without him this would be a total waste of time. Having said that, it’s still totally and utterly worthless.
The Manary Gland - Running at approximately three minutes, this featurette looks at the fake breast De Niro uses to mimic a mother in the film. Despite having much the same tone as ‘Inside the litter box’, it’s quite funny knowing the parody is absent here. However, it again feels like three minutes of worthless fluff.
Fockers’ Family Portrait - This feature is split into three sections looking at Greg and his mum and dad – Bernie Focker and Roz Focker. Clicking each section starts a little video with clips from the film and the individual actors discussing their roles. This dispenses with the flawed comedy of ‘The Manary Gland’ and ‘Inside the little box’, and lets the actors briefly examine their characters.
The adventures of a baby wrangler - This behind-the-scenes featurette looks at the babies who worked in the film. It is approximately four minutes in length and the only thing of interest here is hearing that Robert De Niro, the guy who brought us Travis Bickle, was good at looking after the children.
Matt Lauer: Meet The Fockers - The best feature on the disc is approximately seven minutes in length and sees Matt Lauer interview all the principle actors, including Barbra Streisand, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Ben Stiller, together on the set of the film. It’s good seeing all the actors discussing the film together and there are some great anecdotes to be heard.
NBC’s Hit Comedy Scrubs ‘Training Day’ - This two minute promo for the television comedy Scrubs has nothing to do with the film, but is very funny nonetheless.
Deleted Scenes - Fifteen minutes of deleted scenes are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, and without optional commentary. Some of the scenes are very funny, but it’s obvious they were cut for timing reasons.
Bloopers - Nearly twelve minutes of bloopers and mistakes are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.
Cast and Filmmakers - A text based feature that shows bibliography information for the principle actors etc.
Meet The Fockers is a good sequel which should please fans of the original. The sound and picture on the DVD are excellent, particularly the picture, but the extra features are largely worthless and the attempt to be smart and funny with the featurettes is misjudged and doesn’t work.