Little Fockers keeps putting the 'fun' in dysfunction

Warmth and humor gets an indie spin in the third installment of the <i>Meet the Parents</i> films

All families are a little dysfunctional. Writer/producer John Hamburg uses this fact to his advantage once again in the third installment of the Meet the Parents films, Little Fockers.

Greg (Ben Stiller) and Pam (Teri Polo) Focker have settled into a normal routine of domesticity: Greg now heads the nursing department at Chicago Memorial while Pam is a stay-at-home mom who looks after their 5-year-old twins. Father-in-law and former CIA agent Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) isn't fairing so well. Obsessed with a genealogy project and annoyed that he can't prove the infidelity of his other daughter's husband, Jack suffers a mild heart attack. He names Greg the new paterfamilias should anything happen to him.

There's no denying De Niro and Stiller's chummy chemistry. As always, the supporting cast offers another prickly layer of tension for the two, whether its Kevin (Owen Wilson) still obsessing over Pam; a bubbly overly sexual pharmaceutical salesperson Andi (Jessica Alba) who has her eyes fixed on Greg; the polarized perspectives of the Focker's twins; or the radical philosophies of Greg's parents Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Roz (Barbra Streisand).

Director Paul Weitz adds his own indie spin to the story. Weitz cleverly tempers the time between the series' signature gags with intimate close-ups. The result is a perfect marriage of warmth and humor that sends a clear message about the complexities of family.