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USA 2000
Directed by
Jay Roach
108 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Meet The Parents

This clever mainstream comedy achieves a rare balance between laughter and pathos. The story revolves around the conflicting personalities and world views of Greg (Ben Stiller), a male nurse and the father, Jack (Robert De Niro), of the girl (Teri Polo in a role that was originally given to Naomi Watts) he loves. The happy couple head to her parents place for the wedding of her sister and in classic screwball comedy style everything goes wrong.

A remake of a 1992 short film of the same name (which as far as I know is no longer available) scripted by Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke which Glienna directed and played Greg (he was not named Focker at that stage, a surname apparently suggested by Jim Carrey who for a while was in contention for the role which eventually went to Stiller) the remake, scripted by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg and re-written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (both uncredited), is a continual delight for lovers of schadenfreude (aren't we all) and was a huge commercial success.

There are some great visual gags with De Niro in his best comic performance since The King Of Comedy (1983) dryly droll as the overbearing father and a perfectly cast Ben Stiller doing what he does best as the anxious, accident-prone son-in-law-to-be whilst Owen Wilson steals the show as the impossibly nice former boyfriend of the bride-to-be. There only one small quibble involving a running gag about a missing suitcase. At one stage  the airline company couriers the wrong suitcase to Greg who cannot open. Jack can however and finds some S & M gear in it but we never hear any more about it. Presumably a follow-up scene got left on the cutting room floor.




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