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Directed by Jay Roach
Running Time: 1:46
Rated PG-13 sexual content, drug references and language.

It's been a long time since I saw just a nice old fashioned comedy. Meet the Parents didn't have actors playing a lot of different characters, didn't have a lot of over the top special effects, and didn't have a huge comedic actor needing a huge hit to save his career. It was an old fashioned high-jinks comedy with the normal misunderstandings, ridiculous and uncomfortable happenings that I just find funny. And having Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro going head to head in the main roles was certainly a treat.

Ben Stiller plays Greg Focker, a male nurse in Chicago who is in love with Pam (Teri Polo). Pam's sister is getting married in New York, so the two of them go there for the wedding, and so Greg can ask Pam's father Jack (De Niro) for her hand in marriage. What he doesn't know immediately is that Pam's father is a retired CIA agent who specialized in psychological interrogation. From the moment they arrive at the house, everything that could go wrong to Greg, does go wrong. All he wanted to do was get Jack's permission to marry his daughter, and instead he ends up destroying everything in sight. From setting the house on fire, to losing Jack's precious cat, to spiking a volleyball into the head of the bride, Greg's visit to the parents is the worst experience of his life. Which of course makes it that much more enjoyable for the viewing audience.

A lot of the humour deal with Greg's last name, and his profession as a male nurse. The good thing was that they never went over the top with it. A lot of movies, the Austin Powers movies come to mind, would have taken Focker and run with it, and run it into the ground. To his credit, Jay Roach who directed both Austin Powers and this movie, let the jokes flow with the scenes, as opposed to pointing them out to the audience. The rest of the humour came from the horrible time Greg was having trying to get Pam's father to like him. Joking with him didn't work, giving him gifts didn't work, and just trying to help out didn't work. Of course it's not a big secret how the movie ends, with everything working out for the best, but during the movie it was fun watching Greg feel more and more uncomfortable around the family. Showing up at breakfast in his pajamas, wearing a hideous Speedo into the pool, and destroying the backyard by inadvertantly setting it on fire. Those were just some of the things that Greg had to endure to try and please Jack. The only problem I really had with the movie was that a lot of the best scenes and lines were shown in previews. Sometimes I wish that the producers would hold back a little with what they show in trailers. However to be fair, there were a lot of very funny moments that weren't shown in commercials as well.

I'm finding that these days, I enjoy watching De Niro more in comedies than in dramas. I thought Analyze This (1999) and Wag the Dog (1997) were two very funny movies, while I haven't really enjoyed any of his dramas since 1995's Heat. And I have always been a fan of Ben Stiller, who I think still has a lot of potential to become a huge Jim Carrey-esque movie star. The best parts of the film were the scenes where the two of them would just go head to head. De Niro with his facial expressions, and Stiller with his stuttering dialogue. My favorite moment in the film however was near the end with Stiller in the airport and on the airplane. It's something just about everyone has gone through once in their lives. I love watching Teri Polo for obvious reasons, and the rest of the cast did a fine job as background characters.

The movie as I said before, was very simple. A straight forward story, without the need for a lot of extras. No super CGI effects, no one actor playing 17 different characters, no one dressing up as a big fat woman. Just a lot of good, solid actors, giving good comedic performances. It has been a while since there was a movie out that was just about the story and about the characters, and the comedy built around that, instead of being built around something extraneous. And that's one of the reasons I really enjoyed this movie. It had a lot of good laughs, it has some nice touching scenes, and it also had some down scenes. But in the end, it made you laugh, and that's the point. So overall, I thought Meet the Parents was a pretty funny movie, and definitely worth seeing.

On a side note, I don't have a problem with people emailing me criticism. In fact, I appreciate it when someone writes to me and tells me maybe I missed something, or that maybe I should take another look at the film. Constructive criticism is fine with me. What I don't appreciate, is when someone writes, "Yo are undeniably a moron and a complete loser!!" What exactly am I supposed to get from that? And if you feel that way, why exactly do you keep reading my reviews? So, if you want to keep writing crap like that to me, why don't you be a man and actually write something worthwhile, and maybe even add your name to the email, so you're not some anonymous being on the internet who is too afraid to take credit and responsibility for his actions? To everyone else out there, please keep writing, good or bad, I appreciate all the emails I get.

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reviewed 10/08/00

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