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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jay Roach
Cast:
Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson
Writing Credits:
Greg Glienna (characters), Mary Ruth Clarke (characters), James Herzfeld (story), Marc Hyman (story), James Herzfeld, John Hamburg

Tagline:
And you thought your parents were embarrassing.

Synopsis:
Domestic disaster looms for male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) when his straight-laced, ex-CIA father-in-law (Robert De Niro) asks to meet his wildly unconventional mom and dad (Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman). It’s family bonding gone hysterically haywire, in the must-see comedy critics are calling “A laugh riot!” (Larry King)

Box Office:
Budget
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$46.120 million on 3518 screens.
Domestic Gross
$279.035 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 4/19/2005

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Jay Roach and Editor Jon Poll
• Deleted Scenes
• Bloopers
• “Inside the Litter Box: Behind the Scenes with Jinx the Cat” Featurette
• “The Manary Gland” Featurette
• “Fockers’ Family Portrait” Featurettes
• “The Adventures of a Baby Wrangler” Featurette
• “Matt Lauer Meets the Fockers”
Scrubs Promo
• Cast and Filmmakers
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Meet The Fockers (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 4, 2005)

Proof that you really can fool all of the people some of the time: the enormous commercial success of 2004’s Meet the Fockers. The sequel to 2000’s hit Meet the Parents, Fockers raked in a remarkable $279 million, a figure that greatly surpassed the original’s $166 million. That take also meant that Fockers is currently the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out how this happened. Despite enormous potential, Fockers squanders vast amounts of talent to become a relentlessly moronic and unfunny comedy.

Set about two years after the action in the first movie, Fockers finds that Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) still hasn’t married fiancée Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo). In the original flick, he overcame the wariness and protectiveness of her dad Jack (Robert De Niro), so one might think that no future obstacles occur to impede their wedding.

However, we learn that Greg is about to introduce Jack and wife Dina (Blythe Danner) to his own parents, Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Roz (Barbra Streisand). In a series of odd events, this sends Greg, Jack, Pam and Dina on a ride from Long Island to south Florida in his RV along with Jack’s beloved cat Jinx and infant “little Jack” (Spencer and Bradley Pickren), the child of Pam’s sister Debbie.

Though Greg remains in the “Byrnes Family Circle of Trust” and he and Jack are on good terms, the intimidating senior Byrnes makes sure that Greg understands his parents need to pass the test. This seems less likely when we meet the exceedingly quirky, liberal and loosy-goosy Bernie and Roz. In particular, tension develops between uptight Jack and touchy-feely Bernie. Many shenanigans ensue, especially when we learn that Pam’s in a family way and terrified to tell Jack. We also see a complication when it looks like Greg might have fathered a son (Ray Santiago) with the family’s old housekeeper (Alanna Ubach).

What’s the first moment that tells us Fockers will be an embarrassing, unmitigated disaster? Oh, it’s so hard to choose. Could it be when we see De Niro - one of the greatest film actors of all-time - strap on a fake breast so he can use it to feed a baby and then asks Stiller to feel it? Could it be when we see the child gesture that he needs to poop and soon thereafter headbutts Stiller? Maybe it’s when Stiller drinks breast milk or when a tiny dog humps Danner’s leg or when an elderly man dry humps some old bag while he mutters “bingo, bango, bongo!”

Or maybe it’s during the opening credits just because those launch this miserable experience in non-comedy. Make no mistake: this is an awful, awful movie. I liked the first one to a moderate degree, but this one was jaw-droppingly bad. I couldn’t find a funny moment in the whole thing.

I knew we were in trouble when they introduced the adorable little baby and made him an integral character - that's a "jump the shark" move at its most basic. Movies that feature babies in prominent roles - Three Men and a Baby, Look Who’s Talking, Baby Geniuses - are almost inevitably atrocious. With a cast that includes De Niro, Hoffman, Streisand and Stiller, why does so much of the action revolve around some toddler?

Creative bankruptcy, I suppose. The fact that so much of the movie made no sense didn't help. I was aghast at what I saw. “Relatability" was one reason the first flick worked, as most of us could see the reality behind the comedy and connect to it. All of that goes out the window in the consistently absurd Fockers. I thought the first one strayed from reality a little too much but still offered enough of a connection that I could enjoy it for that tone.

On the other hand, Fockers had nothing to do with reality. It was an absurd farce from minute one and never connected to anything with which I could relate. There's virtually nothing in this movie that has anything to do with the real world - it's all gags for their own sake.

I also think Fockers may well be the biggest waste of talent ever committed to celluloid. Take Hoffman, De Niro and Streisand and you’ll find five acting Oscars plus plenty more nominations. Danner has proven to be a solid pro over the years and Stiller’s a strong comedic talent. Director Jay Roach has never really dazzled, but with Parents and the Austin Powers flicks, he’s proved to be more than competent.

This was the best they could do? De Niro, Hoffman and Streisand get together to serve gags about toddlers, pets and randy geriatrics? And how quickly did the baby saying "a**hole" get old? It wasn't funny the first time, much less the 72nd. What was this - a smuttier Baby Geniuses movie?

I don’t ask much from flicks like Meet the Fockers. A laugh or two would have been nice, but it's not the fact Fockers left me unamused that makes me hate it so. It's the fact it was astonishingly stupid, illogical, pointless, and utterly free of almost any semblance of wit or creativity. When your big gags are a baby who utters profanity and a dog who gets flushed down a toilet, you're in trouble.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Meet the Fockers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the transfer got off to a rough start, it improved quickly and generally looked quite solid.

Sharpness did vary a bit. Overall, the flick demonstrated good accuracy and definition, but occasional exceptions occurred. A few wide shots displayed mild fuzziness and softness. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but edge enhancement cropped up periodically, especially during the movie’s early scenes. As for source concerns, mild grain was apparent, and I saw some examples of specks as well. Most of the movie stayed clean, however.

Colors were pretty positive. A few scenes showed lackluster tones; again, those issues usually appeared during the movie’s early parts. The tones improved as the flick progressed, especially when we got to the tropical Florida setting. Those shots presented some nicely lively and vivid colors. Blacks were quite deep and firm, while low-light sequences presented nice clarity and definition. The transfer included more problems than I’d expect from a new flick, but it still was good enough for a “B-”.

When we got to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Meet the Fockers, we found audio that served as low-key support for the action. As one might expect, the sound stayed heavily focused in the forward channels. Occasional use of the surrounds occurred in scenes on the road and at parties, but don’t expect much material from the back speakers. The front channels added decent ambience.

Audio quality was fine. Speech always sounded natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Music came across as reasonably dynamic and lively, though the score and songs never really stood out as stellar. Effects played a minor role but they created accurate elements with acceptable range. The only problem stemmed from a few moments during which the subwoofer hummed a little for no apparent reason. There wasn’t anything exciting on display here, but the sound did the job it needed to do.

As we move to the DVD’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Jay Roach and editor/co-producer John Poll, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They hit on a number of good topics. We hear about cast and characters, story points and issues related to the sequel, music, locations, sets, deleted sequences and editing, and production design. Many of these comments prove illuminating, such as when we find out about working with the youngsters cast as little Jack, and there are also nice notes about improvisation and dealing with so many famous performers. The track occasionally sags, but in general it proves entertaining and useful.

20 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 15 minutes and 35 seconds. As you can tell from that running time, these are short snippets. They’re more in the realm of scenelets than full sequences, so expect brief extensions of existing bits. The unused parts from the wedding reception present the most substantial cuts, especially when Stiller does double duty as Jorge’s father.

In addition to the deleted scenes, we find 11 minutes and four seconds of Bloopers. Boy, that’s a lot of outtakes, and most of them are just the usual laughs and mistakes. A few interesting bits pop up, though. It’s oddly fascinating to see De Niro read the same line identically while he holds up different sex book covers, and Hoffman does a funny De Niro impression at one point. Most telling comment: during a take on the “foreskin in the fondue” scene, Hoffman caps it with a remark about how he got into acting to do Shakespeare.

Next comes a featurette called Inside the Litter Box: Behind the Scenes with Jinx the Cat. This four-minute and three-second piece presents movie snippets, behind the scenes shots, and comments from Roach, Poll, set PA Denis O’Sullivan Jr., Jinx’s personal assistant Dawn Barkan, set lighting technician James McClure, Jinx’s personal costumer Robert Mata, stand-in John Polce, and actor Ben Stiller. In this cutesy piece, all involved discuss what a diva Jinx became after the success of the first movie. Avoid this annoying promotional goo.

Another featurette entitled The Manary Gland takes up three minutes and six seconds. Here we get notes from Roach and prop master Eugene McCarthy. We learn about the desire to strap a fake tit onto De Niro and its construction. It’s an odd featurette but it becomes reasonably informative.

Fockers’ Family Portrait splits into three short pieces. We get little featurettes about “Bernie Focker” (two minutes, 22 seconds), “Roz Focker” (1:46) and “Greg Focker” (1:53). In these we get remarks from Stiller and actors Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. Each actor talks a little about the movie, their roles, and their impressions. None of the comments add up to much in these fluffy little clips.

Yet another featurette, Adventures of a Baby Wrangler goes for five minutes, 34 seconds. We find notes from baby wrangler Rhonda Sherman as she explains her job. We learn about some of the challenges inherent in working with babies as well as her impressions of the Fockers set. She provides some decent information but the tone remains too superficial for this to turn into anything terribly useful.

Matt Lauer Meets the Fockers presents a publicity piece that lasts seven minutes, 57 seconds. The Today Show host sits with Streisand, De Niro, Hoffman, Stiller, Teri Polo and Blythe Danner. Although it’s cool to see all that talent sit together and chat, the promotional nature of the clip remains clear. We hear a lot of talk about how much fun everything was and not much else.

In addition to a promo for TV’s Scrubs, we get a Cast and Filmmakers section. This includes biographies for actors Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, and Teri Polo plus director Roach, writers Jim Herzfeld, Marc Hyman and John Hamburg, producer Jane Rosenthal and executive producers Amy Sayres and Nancy Tenenbaum. These mostly fall into the category of “annotated filmography”, but they’re not bad.

The DVD launches with a few ads. We get promos for In Good Company, Magnum PI, Knight Rider, and The A Team.

Arguably the biggest waste of talent I've seen ever, Meet the Fockers is a bad flick. Actually, “bad” doesn’t cover the stench of this cinematic excrement, as it’s a painful experience due to the disparity between the talent involved and the non-existent amusement. The DVD presents decent but unspectacular picture and audio as well as mostly fluffy extras highlighted by a good audio commentary. Why this atrocious movie attracted so many fans remains beyond me, for Fockers is genuinely terrible.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.7105 Stars Number of Votes: 38
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