It’s always sad to see the death knell of a somewhat successful franchise but some people don’t know when to quit. The first Meet the Parents was cute while the sequel, Meet the Fockers, re-tread the same territory with lackluster results. The hopefully last installment, Little Fockers, essentially tries to reinvent Meet the Parents with children and two painful performances from Laura Dern and Jessica Alba. In the end it it’s time to stick a fork in this franchise because it’s done.
Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) has finally gained the trust of his father-in-law Jack Byrnes (Robert DeNiro) and has finally started a family with his wife Pam (Teri Polo) consisting of five-year-old twins. In trying to get the children into a good school Greg figures he’ll need more money and decides to hawk a new drug being peddled by a sexy drug representative (Jessica Alba). Unfortunately Jack thinks Greg is cheating and will do everything in his power to find out the truth, even if it threatens to tear the family apart.
To be frank there’s very little to enjoy in Little Fockers because everything has been combed in the first two films. The lack of trust between Greg and Jack, all explored to more laughs in Meet the Parents, the quirky Focker clan and their eccentricities were all delved into during Meet the Fockers. Suffice it to say the only thing this movie will do is make you want to see the first two to see where everything started. So much is recycled that at times there’s very little to make this original and that’s all I can throw in for the good!
The biggest problem with Little Fockers is how generic everything feels. Name a cliché joke and you’ll definitely see it here. People mistaking Greg and Jack for a gay couple…check! A slew of misunderstandings coming out of mis-said words and lack of explanation…double check! The majority of the movie fails because no one in the family talks to each other! Jack feels the need to continue meddling in Greg’s life to the point of making Greg’s daughter Samantha (Daisy Tahan) spy, something that goes beyond meddling in-laws. At a certain point Jack just becomes a nuisance and you’re dying for Pam to actually confront her father instead of telling Greg for the 1,000 time “I’m sorry…my dad’s insane!” By the same token one would assume Greg would start explaining things honestly to avoid misunderstandings, you know proving he’s learned something from the first two stories but no he continues to screw up by not being honest with his wife and others. The children really become set-dressing for getting all the other characters in the film including a rehashed subplot involving Pam’s ex-boyfriend Kevin (Owen Wilson) that is a tired recycle of the plot from Meet the Parents.
It’s apparent how generic this film is by the phoned-in performances of the cast. Stiller and DeNiro do the exact same dance from the previous films and, if anything, they try to take themselves too seriously in this film, particularly Stiller. Everything Greg says in this film seems extra emphasized because he feel’s he’s in control. At times it’s unintentionally laughable because it’s so ridiculous. DeNiro continues to ham it up and does nothing original alongside Blythe Danner who plays his neglected wife. The women in this movie really get the short end of the stick as Teri Polo and Barbra Streisand have no need to be in the film, the same for Dustin Hoffman. Wilson doesn’t do anything new and at times he just seems like a fly, buzzing around waiting for a time to mug at the camera. The newest additions in this installment, Dern and Alba, are the worst by far and this film probably marks the worst performances of their careers. Laura Dern plays the peppy private school headmaster Prudence and only has two modes: smiling and smiling! It’s bad enough her character gets dropped halfway through the film making it seem like stunt casting. Stunt casting is also seen in Harvey Keitel playing a handyman in a desperate bid to get audiences to say “Hey DeNiro and Keitel, reunited!” The worst is Jessica Alba as drug representative Andi Garcia (get it, because if you don’t they’ll remind you about 80 times in this movie). Alba’s character is mainly the other woman you’re supposed to feel bad for because she seduces while drunk. The strangest thing is Alba plays the character like she’s eight with excessive use of the word “dope,” “knuckles,” and “rock star.” A lot of this could be attributed to the writing but she plays the character with doe eyes and the mentality of a child that it’s disturbing at times.
Overall there’s nothing to like about this movie as it’s only made to make money. The cast and plot are so tired they’re cut and pasted from the other films. Dern and Alba are the worst characters in the film and the movie doesn’t do anything with the returning cast it has. If anything stick to Meet the Parents and just forget this exists.