Hollywood Product August 26 2000

Meet the Fockers

Genre: Ben Stiller comedy of humiliation.

Opens: Wed., Dec. 22.

The pitch: Meet the Parents' Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Stiller) introduces his prospective in-laws, including control-freak Jack (Robert De Niro), to the touchy-feely senior Fockers, Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand) over a mortifying weekend in Coconut Grove. Will the Blue State parents get along with the Red State folks?

Money shots: A Focker foreskin drops into a fondue pot. Roz straddles Jack during a sensual massage. Bernie sacks Jack in a touch football game. Bernie breakdances at an engagement party. Greg gives a hilariously revealing toast after Jack injects him with truth serum.

Animal antics: Stiller comedies usually include animal-based slapstick, and Fockers shows Jack's cat flush Bernie's dog down a toilet. Later, the dog humps the cat in retaliation.

Fashion statements: Obsessive grandfather Jack dons a "Mannary" gland, a fake but realistic breast to use while feeding his grandson. Roz sports dangling jewelry and flowing, earth-toned wraps and scarves, as if she's in her "goddess" phase.

Flesh factor: It's cleavage on parade — even Roz's, covered in whipped cream. College kids flash Jack in his RV. Sex therapist Roz fills her home with erotic art. Overall, Fockers focuses so much on breast milk, procreation and parenting, it's like a commercial to get out there and breed.

Cameos: Owen Wilson, Hutch to Stiller's Starsky, reprises his ex-boyfriend role from Meet the Parents. O Brother, Where Art Thou's Tim Blake Nelson turns up as a trigger-happy redneck cop.

What about Barbra?: Streisand gives a relaxed, funny performance in her first film role since 1996's The Mirror Has Two Faces. But as usual, someone has to compliment her looks on camera: "You're so beautiful! You're the sexiest woman alive!" Bernie tells Roz.

Better than the previous one?: Fock no. Meet the Parents made good sport of cross-generational tension, like a vintage "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode. Fockers feels far more forced and contrived, like a recent "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode.

The bottom line: Meet the Fockers stays painfully unfunny until Streisand and Hoffman save the day with their broad but appealing comedic turns — the stars seem to take joy in teasing De Niro. Otherwise, the film finds predictable pretexts for Stiller's patented chagrin.

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