Mark Reviews Movies


˝ Star (out of 4)

Director: Paul Weitz

Cast: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Jessica Alba, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Laura Dern, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Harvey Keitel

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content)

Running Time: 1:38

Release Date: 12/22/10

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Review by Mark Dujsik | December 21, 2010

The tension among the extended family members of the guy with the funny last name somehow managed to find enough material to last two pretty amusing comedies, and then this monstrosity comes along and smashes everything positive about its predecessors except the amiable memory of them. Even that is just clinging on by a thread by the end of Little Fockers, which warps the whole situation and all of the characters, turning them into sketches of their former selves (And they were already simple types to begin with) participating in the lethargic, brainless jokes that have been passed off here as humor.

The movie is such a massive decline that it must be some kind of joke on the part of any combination of director Paul Weitz (perhaps a subversive plan to kill a franchise he was not a fan of with his first (and let us hope only) entry), writers John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey (the former, maybe, enjoying steady work with the series after the success of the first movie; the latter possibly assuming he could coast on the coattails of his partner), and/or the cast (if we go with the hypothetical assault on the audience's sense of dignity, no doubt laughing themselves silly at the sight of the paycheck). This is all a theory, needless to say, but it's the more polite way to look at the end result. If it's not a cruel hoax, then it is the product of almost total incompetence.

Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his wife Pam (Teri Polo) are now the parents of fraternal twins (The "joke" is that the boy (Colin Baiocchi) has a smaller frame while the girl (Daisy Tahan) likes fighting and playing with army toys). Their birthday is approaching, which means the grandparents will be coming into town. Greg's father Bernie (Dustin Hoffman, in a role of such size that screams contractual obligation) is in Spain learning Flamenco, while his mother Roz (Barbra Streisand) now hosts a national television show about sex, for which she frequently uses her son's life as an example.

Meanwhile, Pam's father Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) is having heart problems and searching for an heir—someone to take over patriarchal duties when he's gone. After his other, favorite son-in-law has an affair with another woman, Jack decides that Greg is the man for the job.

He even gives his successor a nickname. Prepare yourself. Are you ready for it? Jack dubs Greg "the god-Focker." Then they spend the rest of the scene repeating "god-Focker" over and over and over and over, and, please, make it stop already. No matter how many times De Niro or Stiller says it, it's not going to be funny or clever or witty or charming.

In a later scene, Greg's son projectile vomits into dad's face, and no one even mentions "god-Focker" beforehand. With that moment, one before it in which Greg assists with a patient's enema, and another after both of those in which he slices into his finger while carving a turkey, one might think the movie is obsessed with bodily functions (Bernie even makes mention of how we have to laugh at the things our bodies do, or we don't have a sense of humor—a lesson for a different movie that has more than three scenes involving that kind of humor), but it's not. Those scenes alone, though, are so awkward and grotesque on varying levels that they stand out as exceptionally painful.

The vomit's obvious on its own merits just by description. The sliced finger, though, erupts in a geyser spraying all over everyone and everything. The enema scene features Jessica Alba as obnoxiously bubbly pharmaceutical rep Andi Garcia (And, yes, people do mistake her for the actor) using words like "anus" in an erotically seductive tone. She's selling Greg medication for erectile dysfunction that's safe for people with heart problems. Remember how Jack has heart problems? Yes, there's a scene where Jack takes some and the effect lasts a bit too long. The result involves a needle full of adrenalin injected directly into the problem area. There's your fair warning.

I put a lot of undue weight on the more outlandish scenes of Little Fockers, because the rest is utterly useless rehash. Kevin (Owen Wilson), an ex-boyfriend of Pam's, shows up again and tries to steal her away again ("Why are you here," Greg finally asks him for all of us). There's a huge misunderstanding about the relationship between Greg and Andi. Jack pushes Greg to the brink. They can all go away now.

Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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