Meet the Parents
|Writers:||Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg|
|Universal Pictures and Dreamworks; PG-13; 105 minutes|
|Cast:||Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner|
Meet the Parents preys on a basic human fear: in-laws. In this case, male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) must spend the weekend with the parents of his girlfriend (Teri Polo) to ask her hand in marriage. Problems arrive in the form of Dina's father, an ornery, over-protective CIA profiler played by Robert De Niro. Many of the laughs come from Stiller's amiable loser reacting (badly) to the glowering intensity of poppa De Niro. From the moniker on down, Focker's ability to misstep is uncanny, his penchant for faux-pas almost admirable.
The casting of Stiller and De Niro reflects the hybrid humor of the script. It tones down Farrelly Brothers' grossout slapstick and presents the more considered characters of De Niro's recent comedies. Every laugh, however cheap, is purchased.
In addition to constructing solid gags, director Jay Roach recognizes the necessity of a powerful cast. The headlining men are well supported. Playing De Niro's wife, Blythe Danner shines, as does Owen Wilson as Dina's absurdly perfect ex-suitor. Roach's recent work includes Mystery, Alaska and Austin Powers. Detailed quirkiness and gaff-power are his calling cards, and Meet the Parents introduces another successful comedy.