Meet The Parents



Boy, does Ben Stiller, from Something About Mary, go through it in hit Hollywood comedy Meet the Parents. Talk about a sea of troubles.

The very fact hes a male nurse and his name is Greg Focker should signpost what hes about to be subjected to.

And get this: the middle name of the woman he wants to marry, Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), is Martha. Shell be Pam Martha Focker...

Naturally the root cause of his affliction is Pams stars-and-stripes dad, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro).

Leaving the Windy City of Chicago for a weekend in the leafy suburbs, Greg is most keen to make an impression with Pams folks. He does its just not the kind of impression he had planned.

But, hey, what do you expect when youre trying to seek approval from Jack, the ex-CIA spy-hunter who owns a lie-detector machine, keeps surveillance cameras in his flowerpots and has his cat trained to sit on the toilet seat.

Little things like setting fire to the garden, giving the sister a black eye and spilling the mothers ashes and seeing them mistaken for kitty litter are bound to happen.

Take, for instance, when Greg remarks Puff the Magic Dragon, a favourite song of Jacks, is really about smoking a joint. After that, Jacks convinced Greg is a pothead, even as he wildly protests I pass on grass!

Of course, this is a one-joke movie but what a joke. It has been done just right and Meet the Parents is a very funny movie indeed.

Having, no doubt, learnt a few harsh comedy lessons from Analyze This, De Niro wisely underplays his character. Jack may be bigoted, but hes sympathetic enough not to spill over into caricature. Subsequently the joke doesnt wear thin.

But because the movie doesnt work on any other level, its a long way behind De Niros best comedy, Midnight Run. You have to hand it to him though, De Niro may have created one of the greatest bodies of work in cinema, very much dependent on those old-school values, but he certainly knows how to keep in touch with the new century just send up the mans world stuff. And in Meet the Parents he does that admirably.