Starring: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Jessica Alba, Harvey Keitel, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand, Laura Dern
Director: Paul Weitz
Writer(s): John Hamburg, Larry Stuckey
Cinematography: Rmi Adefarasin
Original Score: Stephen Trask
Running Time: 97 Mins.
A money-spinning comedy franchise is not an unusual occurence, (relatively) cheap to make, already having a built-in fan-base and providing opportunity for a film that all members of the family can enjoy which is precisely why films such as Little Fockers (dubbed Meet the Parents: Little Fockers on much of the advertising just in case the word Focker didn’t bring back memories of past films) and the quite frankly terrible Gulliver’s Travels see their releases coinciding with that most family orientated of times, Christmas.
the good news is that Little Fockers is better than Gulliver’s Travels in that it at least made me laugh twice but then again this is far from a glowing recommendation, it looks although those seeking post-christmas quailty family-fare will have to wait a little longer. Before dismissing Little Fockers altogether it is important to understand how a once very strong comedy film, in Meet the Parents, has found itself sinking to these depths of the comedy eschelon!
The title is a good place to start and helpfully allows me to surmise the overall issue, Little Fockers has stemmed from a joke in the first film that saw Ben Stiller’s character being named Gaylord Focker, admittedly funny at the time and in the handful of scenes it was played upon in said film, fast froward a few years and a sequel was born, Meet the Fockers, okay you think a funny play on the first title and a good hook for a sequel. Where Little Fockers falls down is that the film is not really about the “Little Fockers” at all, concerning very little bar a few cheap laughs at the expense of the Focker twins that Greg/Gaylord and his wife (Teri Polo), who barely registers, now have.
What this means is we have a film consisting of jokes recycled from the two earlier episodes and characters and even situations drafted in for sequences that are tacked together to form the basis of plot points taken from the past entries, so we have Jack suspicious of Greg who he suspects is having an affair with a vacuous, yet game, Jessica Alba, and a conclusion that brings the whole family together in the most hackneyed of ways. None of this would really matter if any of it at least had some coherence from one scene to the next or was at the very least a funny series of sketches, but no neither of these hoped events come into fruition leaving not only a rather unfunny comedy, but a dull one at that.
The worst thing about Little Fockers is how obviously De Niro and Stiller are there for the pay cheque, on the plus side at least their scenes gel, poor Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand are edited into the whole mish-mash so poorly there late additions to the casting and filming process make there story-arc (if you can call it that!) stand out like a sore thumb, only ever engaging face to face with the other key players once. Add to this the return of Owen Wilson, whose plot-line from the first film is also recycled, and inexplicable appearances from Laura Dern and Harvey Keitel that are among some of the most cringe-wprthy scenes in a while and you have an overall turkey!
Out of the season of goodwill I would stress that there are a handful of laughs to be wrung from a situation involving Viagra, a curious “Little Focker”, De Niro and a needle, though just having those words together in a sentence seems wrong in itself and highlights the depths to which a once great actor, and promising franchise, has sunk.
Little Fockers, like its title, is a recycled rehash of the previous two films bereft of anything close to funny bar a scene, or two at the most, this is one franchise that really has run well and truly out of steam, and ideas!