Rated PG-13 for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content.
98 agonizing minutes
Article first published as Movie Review: Little Fockers on Blogcritics.
Sometimes there are movies you walk into knowing you’ll have no need to take notes. Then there are times you happen to get so caught up in the film that by the time it’s over you look down and realize you haven’t written a thing, as was the case with “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” Then there are movies where you’re relieved you don't have a notepad in front of you as the movie is so frustratingly awful you just know you would have wound up tearing the pages out, ripping them to pieces, and tossing them into the air.
The newest cinematic atrocity to join this rank alongside such displeasures as “Valentine’s Day,” “The Back-up Plan,” “Furry Vengeance,” “The Last Airbender,” and “Yogi Bear” happens to be none other than “Little Fockers” and is quite possibly the worst offender. Ten years ago, the original Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro comedic gem, “Meet the Parents,” seemed rather fresh. And while the first sequel “Meet the Fockers” nowhere near lived up to its predecessor, I still laughed. But nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the abomination that is “Little Fockers.”
As if you need a plot synopsis, here is one, but I’ll keep it brief. It’s been six years since we last saw Greg (Stiller) and Pam (Teri Polo) Focker. They’re living a normal life with their young twins, Samantha and Henry (Daisy Tahan, Colin Baiocchi). But things just wouldn’t be the same without some kind of dysfunctionality provided by the uncomfortable visitation of Jack and Dina Byrnes (De Niro and Blythe Danner). And before you can say “What could possibly go wrong?” we’re treated to all kinds of supposedly hysterical hijinks. Unfortunately, hilarity does not ensue.
Prepare yourself to bask in the glory of absurdities, like Henry asking Greg if girls can poop from their vagina. See Greg bathe his in-laws with his own blood while carving a turkey. Hear Greg continually called “Gay” by his parents Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand who both at least look like they're trying to have fun). See Greg give Jack a penile shot of adrenaline in front of Henry. Witness Jessica Alba trying to act, and even failing to convey the time-honored tradition of a woman in heat.
But wait! There are far worse things afoot, as Universal Pictures allows one of their most respected classics, “Jaws,” to be trashed by director Paul Weitz, who seems to be allowed to unfortunately handle whatever he wants so long as he doesn’t leave the Universal lot. While Weitz may have given us such films as the first “American Pie,” the classic “About a Boy,” and the amazing “In Good Company,” he has been on a drastic losing streak with his two films, “American Dreamz” and “Cirque du Freak - The Vampire's Assistant.”
Admittedly neither of those films reach the amateurish level of ineptitude on display here, but at least they could pass themselves off as films. The highest level of sophistication that “screenwriters” John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey strive for is embarrassing. How many times can they make Bernie and Roz call Greg “Gay” or have both Jack and Greg use the phrase “God-Focker” ad nauseam before you realize that the joke is on you for paying to see this garbage? Such a shame too as the last movie Hamburg gave us was the brilliant “I Love You, Man.”
There is one thing in this film that is hilarious, and it’s not even a joke. When the high point of your film is one single act of unintentional humor, the real joke is on the audience. Alas, while I may have flipped the movie the bird over its inexplicable “Jaws” reenactment, complete with “forward tracking, zoom out” shot and John Williams' classic score, Universal is flipping all of us the bird in return. And my biggest fear is that the series is finally dumbed down enough that this one will make far more box office bucks than either of the first two. Merry “focking” Christmas everyone, we reap what we sow.
Photo courtesy Universal Pictures