Friday, December 24, 2010

Movie Review: Little Fockers

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It has been ten years since we originally met male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) when he wanted to marry Pam Byrnes(Teri Polo) and had to get past the meeting of the families in 2000's Meet the Parents and 2004's Meet the Fockers. At this time we're on good grounds of knowing who the characters are and their relationships. With a name for the latest installment of Little Fockers you'd think that the focus of the story would be the children of Greg and Pam, but you'd be wrong. The focus is still on the relationship between Greg and his nosey ex-CIA agent and head strong father-in-law Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro).

Little Fockers movie poster
Part of the humor of the series has been just how controlling and tightly wound Jack is. Putting a future son-in-law on a lie detector or trying to help raise a grand son by wearing devices allowing a normal situation that should take place between a mother and son is over the top. Now approximately six years into Greg and Pam's marriage and family rearing, Jack has become worried about who will run the Byrnes clan once his time is up and he gets deactivated from the big CIA operative list in the sky.

Another ingredient in the series humor recipe is the reaction and relationships between the hodge-podge of adult family members. Pam shows her love for her mom Dina (Blythe Danner) who somehow has managed to find the right balance between raising the family and keeping Jack on keel. Or what about the more hippyish, free love and very free spirit Focker,s Rozalin and Bernie (Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman), coming up against the straight laced Byrnes. Throw in the dash of craziness added by one of Pam's former boy friends Kevin (Owen Wilson) to keep situations interesting and people on their toes.

But when you come down to it, the vast majority of the humor comes from the embarrassment of Greg Focker. If it wasn't for the positions that Greg finds himself, sometimes of his own doing, sometimes not, there wouldn't be much humor in the series. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, missed cues or botched actions provide the type of laughter that generates the PG-13 rating for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content. While the scenarios aren't meant to be malicious, many are cringe worthy. Inside you think, "just tell them the truth, don't hide it! If you do that you'll save yourself in the long run!" But then again, if that actually happened, you wouldn't have a comedy movie now would you?

Greg seems to have struck a balance with Jack. But with Jack considering his own mortality the balance is thrown out of whack. Putting extra pressure on Greg ends up being a germination point which sprouts forth with the aforementioned cringe moments. Having some money issues due to remodeling a home leads Greg to become a paid advocate for Sustengo, the equivalent of a little blue pill but is safe for heart patients. The company rep is Andi Garcia played by Jessica Alba. So of course, what writer could pass up the opportunity to play around with erectile dysfunction medication and the looks of Jessica Alba? Obviously, not returning series writer John Hamburg.

The film is produced by Tribeca Productions, a company that is partially owned by De Niro. You look at this and wonder why they would produce something like this? At the heart of the film, it's about family love. Even with as ludicrous as events become between the parties involved, each in their own crazy mixed up way tries to show what love for one another is about. All 98 minutes showcase that love as awkward and unbalanced as it can sometimes get.

When the movie is over, don't leave right away. There is some added levity and a huge missed opportunity during the credits. Once the credits take up the full width of the screen you can leave without a gnawing feeling that there will be more funny to be delivered. Where they missed out is during the last laughs of the movie Jack goes online to do research. Instead of creating the actual material so that you and I at home could Google and get the same search results, they let the results languish as just props created for the movie. It could have been so much fun to see the result on our own computer! They made it for the film, it wouldn't have taken a whole lot more to move it onto the internet!

The Movie Monkey

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