"Meet the Parents" was an uneven, but pleasant enough comedy that enough people could relate to that the picture became a massive, unexpected hit. The sequel brings back the same director, the same screenwriters and not only the same actors, but a couple of new big names. "Fockers" is a comfortable, fairly safe sequel - there's some laughs to be found here, but the picture is in many ways a retread of the original.
The picture starts shortly after the original film, as Gaylord (a.k.a. Greg) (Ben Stiller) and his fiancee, Pam (Teri Polo) get set to introduce Pam's parents, Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner), to Greg's - Bernie and Roz Focker (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand). Jack is a moderately paranoid and extremely clever ex-CIA agent. Greg's parents are hippies - basic culture-clash comedy.
Roz happens to be a sex therapist, while Bernie is a lawyer that retired. Hoffman and Streisand seem to having fun with their roles, but only Hoffman comes close to really selling the humor. Deniro interacts well with the both of them, and it's entertaining to see Hoffman and Deniro in scenes together. It's nice to also not see Stiller playing an idiot again, as what I liked least about the first film is that it's main source of humor was to find new ways to majorly humiliate the character, to the point where it was more cringe-worthy than amusing. Polo and Danner continue to play it straight against everyone else's humor, but they do a good job with fairly thankless roles. The babies that play Jack's new grandson are also terrific, as are the cat (one of the funniest moments has Deniro's character explaining why it'd be okay if his cat was flushed down the toilet of his camper: "he has extensive aquatic training.") and dog that belong to the families.
Director Jay Roach has been at the helm of two massive franchises: the "Austin Powers" series and now, "Meet the Parents". Both are funny, but in the "Meet" series, the direction seems a little more on autopilot, simply eager to throw big names on-screen and see what occurs as a result. The result is good enough, but a little more effort and a little more thought put into the screenplay (there's a fair amount of potty jokes and "Focker" bits here) and the film could have been something more. There's some funny moments here and "Fockers" was an enjoyable way to pass a couple of afternoon hours, but hopefully the third (and I'm definitely guessing a third film is happening) film will go in a different direction.
Viewers can either play the theatrical version of the film or an extended version, which essentially has deleted scenes added back into the picture. The only issue is that these scenes are not edited back into the picture - instead, an icon comes up, the player freezes and then the extended scene (fairly rough, non-anamorphic) is played. Afterwards, viewers are returned to the movie. Issues with the way this "extended cut" is presented aside, I wouldn't recommend watching the extended cut first, for people new to the movie: the player halts while it searches for the footage breaks up the experience and, despite the fact that there's some funny added moments here, the pace of the movie suffers noticably with the added footage.
VIDEO: "Meet the Fockers" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. With cinematography by John Schwartzman ("Armageddon", "The Rookie"), "Fockers" is moderately better looking than the original film, and this fine transfer shows it off well. Sharpness and detail are generally consistent, as the picture appeared nicely crisp and well-defined, aside from a few minor moments.
The picture did show some minor edge enhancement and slight shimmering, but the print was in perfect condition and no pixelation was spotted. The film's bright, lively color palette was reproduced superbly here, with excellent saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "Meet the Fockers" is presented by Universal in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's audio track is definitely a "comedy" mix, with the majority of the audio remaining forward-oriented. Surrounds come in briefly for some brief, minor ambience and light reinforcement of the music. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and crisp music.
EXTRAS: The main supplement included is a commentary from director Jay Roach and producer Jon Poll.
More deleted scenes are included in the supplemental section, as well as 10 minutes of bloopers that are quite funny at times. There's also a jokey cast/crew featurette about Jinx the cat, a piece about the Deniro character's "nursing suit", a short (and very weird) promo for the brilliant TV show, "Scrubs"; a Matt Lauer interview with the "Fockers" cast, the "Fockers Family Portrait" piece and finally, "Adventures of a Baby Wrangler". Cast/crew bios and DVD-ROM features round out the disc.
Final Thoughts: "Meet the Fockers" is a safe follow-up to the first film, as there are some funny moments here and the cast is good, but the movie really doesn't bring much that anyone isn't going to be expecting going in. The DVD offers a lot of supplements, as well as satisfactory audio/video quality. Recommended for fans, while others should try a rental first.
The Film ***