Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Littler Fockers (2010)

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson
Director: Paul Weitz

Why was this movie made? Sure, there are, and have been, weirder sequels out there, but I just do not understand why they keep trying to milk this particular series to death. "Meet the Parents" was a funny film that showed the problems of having difficult in-laws and having to come to terms with them in order to make your loved ones happy. "Meet the Fockers" was a mediocre sequel that drowned itself with unfunny gags and bathroom humor. So now we get this. Let's see how it goes...

The film starts off with Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his wife Pam (Teri Polo) living in their apartment complex with their twins Henry and Samantha (Colin Baioochi and Daisy Tahan respectively). They are expecting the arrival of Pam's parents, Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) who are coming to celebrate the twin's upcoming birthday. Before this happens, Jack, who has secretly suffered a minor heart attack, tells Greg that in case something happens to him. Uh, didn't Jack have a son in the first movie? Or are we just going to pretend he never existed? We are. Fine. Anyway, despite his new agreement with Greg, things start to go airy when Jack begins to micromanage the couples affairs, such as how they try to decide on a new school for the kids and fix up a house they are moving into. Things get even more complicated when a sexy pharmaceutical representative named Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba) enters the picture.

The biggest problem with this movie is that it is extremely predictable. You can see the situations and jokes coming from a mile away. As soon as I saw Jessica Alba in the opening credits, I knew she was going to be used as someone who people would suspect Greg would be having an affair with. In another scene...okay, before I get to that, I have to explain what happens right before that because to show how low this movie goes. Jack takes some medicine that ends up giving him a boner. Yes, Robert De Niro gets a boner in this movie! Thats...just... terrific! Thank you "Little Fockers" for giving us this great moment in cinematic history! Then again, "Meet the Fockers" showed us Dustin Hoffman on the toilet, so I guess it was only a matter of time wasn't it? Anyway, Henry walks in on Greg and Jack as the former is trying to inject a needle into Jack's annnd thats all you really need to know. The following day, he has some tests done, in which he needs to draw a picture that corresponds to the word "family". Guess what he draws? Bingo!

Even when the movie tries to be clever, it fails. When Jack names Greg as his successor, he designates him as "the Godfocker" just as he had previously named his now ex-son-in-law Dr. Bob as "the Bobfather". Umm, I'm guessing this is supposed to be an inside joke because Robert De Niro was in "The Godfather, Part II". I mean, otherwise that would just be a really stupid thing to call someone. There is also another instance where it is pointed out that Alba's character's name is very similar to that of actor Andy Garcia. This might have been intended as a running gag, but it has so little traction from the start that even the film itself seems to give up on it after a while.

There are also some problems in terms of plot holes and the nature of the characters involved. Besides the whole thing with now nonexistent Byrnes son that I mentioned above, there is the matter of Jack's feelings toward his daughter's ex Kevin Rawley, played once again by Owen Wilson. Why would Jack, as conservative and uptight as he is, be more impressed by Kevin, who has gone really hippy-dippy since we last saw him, than Greg? Sure, Kevin has a lot more money than Greg which is always a big factor when it comes to these things. However, I would think that Jack would still have doubts about ditching someone who is generally "down to earth" and the father of his grandchildren than a spacey guy who is "trying to find himself". Shouldn't he also be a little weirded out by the fact that Kevin has a tattoo of her on his back and carries a photo of her around? I wouldn't want my daughter to break up her marriage so she can spend the rest of her life with a guy who is border-line creepy and so emotionally needy. This would be an opportune time for me to make a joke about Owen Wilson playing a guy with serious emotional issues, but I have a feeling that it will come across as being highly inappropriate and insensitive, so I am going to have to take a pass. Sorry folks; have to draw the line somewhere.

Now, you probably want me to crucify this film, which I sort of already have. That being said, I have to be completely honest: for all its flaws, it is not that bad. The acting is pretty good, even as far as the kids are concerned. The bathroom humor but it is more toned down, probably due to the fact that Hoffman and Barbra Streisand have reduced roles compared to the previous "Fockers" movie, though when they do show up they are fairly pleasant. There were also a few parts of it that were mildly amusing, like when Jack want to brainwash his grandson and the physical confrontation between Greg and Jack at the end. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Jessica Alba in this picture; she allows her peppy character to be really fun and full of energy, even if she is a little on the crazy side. And she strips down to her underwear at one point, which from Alba is always welcomed. It almost makes up for the De Niro boner segment. Almost. I think probably the best part of the movie was the fact that after years of being subjected to Jack, Greg finally starts to show a little bit of backbone when he is around. While he still hopes to gain his in-laws approval, it is not a necessity like it used to be. He has finally taken command of his family and his life, and (perhaps) this will finally allow Jack to fully accept him into the family...and leave him the hell alone.

Overall, the film was...okay. I will give it that much. I was not ecstatic after watching it, but did not feel like I completely wasted my time either. It is certainly not as good as "Meet the Parents" but it is better than "Meet the Fockers". It is not a must-see film by any means, but if you have a desire to see it for some reason, it is possible you may enjoy it. Just keep your expectations in check and be aware of what you are going into.