Meet the Parents (2000) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, drug references and language
Running Time: 108 min.
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson
Director: Jay Roach
Screenplay: James Herzfeld, John Hamburg (based on the 1992 movie of the same name)
Jay Roach, director of the Austin Powers films, takes another stab at a non-Austin comedy (Mystery Alaska was the first), achieving likeable but uneven results. This one casts Ben Stiller (Keeping the Faith, Mystery Men) as a male nurse named Greg Focker (obvious jokes here), who is madly in love with Pam (Polo, Mystery Date), and has immediate plans to ask for her hand in marriage. Upon learning that Pam's sister's fiancé had "done the right thing" by getting her father's permission before asking, Greg postpones his plans for a surprise proposal and decides to do the same. Difficulties arise when Greg starts off on the wrong foot during a stay with the folks, and repeatedly makes blunder after blunder in his attempts to please dear old dad (De Niro, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle).
Meet the Parents delivers on a number of quality moments, generating enough laughs to recommend. A weak final third does put a damper on the comedic momentum that the first hour had built up so well. While it doesn't take much thought to figure out where the storyline is headed, a few nice touches keep things from becoming too predictable to enjoy. The casting is excellent and the script lively, but once the film sets up the tension between De Niro and Stiller it sinks into uninspired hysterics in an attempt to deliver laughs that aren't there. Had the film stayed light and witty throughout, Meet the Parents could have been one of the year's nicer surprises. As it stands, it's merely a pleasant but somewhat disappointing diversion that will entertain while it's on, but may not stay with you for much longer once it's all through.
-- It's a remake of a little known 1992 film, also entitled Meet the Parents. Followed by Meet the Fockers (2004) and Little Fockers (2010).
©2000 Vince Leo