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dir Paul Weitz
scr John Hamburg, Larry Stuckey
prd Robert De Niro, John Hamburg, Jay Roach, Jane Rosenthal
with Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Jessica Alba, Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel, Kevin Hart, Tom McCarthy
release US/UK 22.Dec.10
10/US Paramount 1h38
Egos at dawn: De Niro and Stiller
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
While this second sequel to Meet the Parents features the same comedy of embarrassment and vulgarity as its predecessors, it also takes a strange sideways step into machismo that leaves it feeling rather joyless.
As their twins (Daisy Tahan and Colin Baiocchi) are about to turn 5, Greg and Pam Focker (Stiller and Polo) are planning a big birthday party involving both of their sets of parents. While Pam's intense dad Jack (De Niro) is pressuring Greg to be a family leader, her mom (Danner) tries to keep the peace. Meanwhile, Greg's parents (Streisand and Hoffman) are on separate quests of their own. But it's Pam's ex Kevin (Wilson) who really stirs things up. As does a drug rep (Alba) who gets a bit too close to Greg.
Not known for its sophisticated writing, this movie series has at least given its cast a chance to shine through playfully against-type performances. The high point was the introduction of Streisand and Hoffman in Part 2, but this film feels overcrowded, leaving the Focker parents lurking outside the plot (she has a hit TV show, he's studying flamenco). Instead, this is pitched as merely another collision between Jack's and Greg's egos.
As a result, this movie feels somewhat stale and repetitive. Sure, it gives its talented actors scenes in which they clearly relish their goofy roles. And there are some very funny moments, such as the sight of De Niro power-diving into a kids' ball pit. But even that scene devolves into a tired Jaws pastiche. And the subplot involving Alba is squirm-inducing in its continual attempts to generate comical tension using plot points from old episodes of Three's Company.
And this chapter doesn't push the story any further. After parts 1 and 2, we know that every scene is merely a set-up for something excruciating. Yet anything we imagine could happen is far funnier than what we see on screen. It's all build-up without any decent pay-offs. There are some hilarious bits along the way, but the ultimate swamp of family-centric sentiment leaves us hoping these people don't return to our screens without a much better script than this one.
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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