‘Meet the Parents’ is still funny the second time around

[rating=3]Starring: Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, James Rebhorn, Jon Abrahams, Owen Wilson
Director(s): Jay Roach
Writer(s): Screenplay by Jim Herzfeld, John Hamburg; Story by Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke

Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller in 'Meet the Parents'
Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller in ‘Meet the Parents’

Meet the Parents comedy is memorable largely for the brilliant casting of Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. I think had you been told that DeNiro was going to do a movie like this back in the 80s, or even the earlier 90s, then no one would have believed you.

But DeNiro pulls off the role of Jack Byrnes, the father of the woman Ben Stiller’s Greg Focker, is looking to marry. When Greg and his girlfriend go to her parents’ house for the wedding of her sister, Greg struggles to make nice with the people he hopes will be his future in-laws. However, Jack isn’t too receptive to this new guy in his little girl’s life. And Greg has his own problems as he makes one mistake after another.

There are a lot of funny moments throughout this movie. I hadn’t seen it in quite a while, so rewatching it the other day was a treat. The antics do get a little outrageous towards the end, and it teeters on the brink when it comes to Ben Stiller’s character. At first, he is unjustly bullied by DeNiro. But, over time, he kind of deserves the ridicule he receives. The film does manage to establish Stiller’s Greg Focker as a likable goof, so when he does start messing things up, it’s kind of hard not to feel sorry for him.

But, this movie’s been out on DVD for quite some time now. The new “re-release” is basically a gimmick to help promote the sequel, Meet the Fockers. And this new “Bonus Edition” sports additional bloopers and a few other special features that weren’t found on the initial release.

The bloopers are hilarious. I could probably watch a whole DVD of nothing but flubs. It’s great not only to see actors like DeNiro crack up in the middle of a take, but it also humanizes them. Especially someone like DeNiro, who is often promoted as this steely tough man. Watching him crack up repeatedly as he plays with the cat cracked me up every time.

There are also a few other items found on the DVD that are new, such as a deleted scene where DeNiro sings during the climactic wedding. It’s really DeNiro singing, and he really shouldn’t quit his day job.

There’s also a documentary on lie detectors. It’s a clever concept, but the execution was a little dull. Plus another doc focuses on the woman responsible for training the cats, which is kind of interesting.

I was looking forward to the commentary here, which is provided by Jay Roach — the film’s director — and Jon Poll, its editor. But what I thought would be a fun dialogue was actually a bit dry.

The oddest part of this DVD was the menu. Apparently, the special features are “Sponsored by Earthlink”. I’ve never before seen this kind of advertising, and it was a little strange. As you move through the special features section, you’re told that all these items were brought to you by Earthlink. I suppose it was some advertising exec’s clever idea, and from a money-making standpoint, it’s not bad.

But selling advertising in the menu? I don’t know, that’s just weird.

Rated: PG-13
Run Time:  1 hr., 43 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

Leave a Reply