Meet the Parents review by Tom Blain

At times, funny.

Meet the Parents is a comedy about an insecure man (Ben Stiller) who is meeting the parents of upper class girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo) for the first time. What does he have to be insecure about? Well for starters his name is Gaylord Greg Focker, and he is a male nurse. As if that isnt a slap in the face, his girlfriends over protective father an ex-CIA man played by Robert De Niro.

It becomes obvious that ole Bobby will have nothing but the best for his daughter. So in order to insure that, Greg is put through a number of tests. He is spied on, given a lie-detector test that no man should go through, and is openly compared to Pams over-achieving ex-boyfriend (hilariously played by Owen Wilson). Throughout the film his girlfriend shows nothing but love for him, but Greg is still self-doubting.

I think that is my main frustration of the film. Greg is jealous and insecure despite the fact that Pam displays her love for him over and over. Greg cowers back when being made fun by her relatives and shows anger towards his Pam for a relationship that has been over for quite some time. He also makes a number of stupid mistakes and begins to create lies in situations where he shouldnt have to lie. Greg would be better off just telling the truth and taking it on the chin. Instead he looks like a jerk when everyone finds out what really happened. I realize that is part of the comedy, but at the same time, its shows to me that Greg probably isnt the most likeable guy.

There is one more problem I have with the film and that is that I could see the jokes coming a mile away. For example, in a movie like this, if there is an urn sitting a mantle, it will fall. I know this, and most of the audience should know this. But instead they set it up, and talk about it. Then they grab the champagne and we can see it coming a mile away. When the urn falls is it funny? Not to me. I had already played out the scenario in my head 10 times. In a game of pool volleyball where a man is being told he is outplayed by a girl, its only a matter of time before he unleashes the beast and pounds the ball into one of the fairer sex. Again, saw it coming. Many jokes were like this, its unfortunate.

I would be lying if I said I didnt laugh though. Most of my laughs were a result of Owen Wilson. He laid it on thick as the ex-boyfriend who has it all or at least everything Greg doesnt have. Ole Owen lays down his lines halfway between arrogance and blas. He calls Greg Gregor (for whatever reason) and when its mentioned Greg is Jewish, he remarks, Oh you are in good company. So was JC (Jesus Christ). The other character who caught my funny bone was the father of Pams sisters fianc, Dr. Larry Banks (Jason Rebhorn). He is a pompous, upper class, SOB who couldnt respect Greg any less. He calls him by his last name but uses it more like an insult. He rips into poor Greg at any sign of blood and with shark like proficiency.

All in all, I wouldnt say I disliked the film. Watching Robert De Niro in a comedy role like this (not like Analyze This) was fun. But I didnt thoroughly enjoy the film. Some laughs just werent there. And Ben Stiller was irritating. I find him funny in some movies, and not so funny in others. I think in this case his character was too unlikable to root for in the end and that was a problem.. But the movie had its moments, and I think I may have even laughed harder the second time, so there is still hope.




5 out of 10 Jackasses
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