Sunday, January 9, 2011

Little Fockers

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

The Fockers are back, this time with twins in tow. New conflicts arise as Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) deals with the challenges of raising his toddlers. Things get further complicated as his in-laws, led by ex-CIA Jack Byrnes (Robert de Niro), and his wife’s ex Kevin (Owen Wilson – no, he is not dead) drop in for a visit just in time for the kids’ birthday party.

The trailer says it all. After Jack tells Greg that he is watching him, Greg responds with a bewildered Still? As a moviegoer who has seen the two prequels, you also get to ask the same question after seeing part three. Still? You would like to think that after two movies this unlikely pair of in-laws would have and should have already resolved their issues. Apparently, they still have not. The story does not really offer anything new. The formula is rehashed from the two previous installments, which focuses on the dynamics between Greg and Jack. Sometimes you wonder if it was Pam whom Greg really married. Perhaps poking fun at this oddity, there is a scene where father and son-in-law get mistaken for a couple.

The title is not even appropriate anymore. Although the movie revolves around the theme of raising kids, this is easily dismissed and overshadowed every time Greg and Jack are given generous screen time trying to outwit each other. Most of the returning cast (Barbara Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Owen Wilson – no, he is not dead) could have been disposed and downgraded to cameo appearances since they really do not contribute anything essential to the plot. Jessica Alba is delegated the typical third party role who has no redeeming qualities and conveniently disappears after being utilized as a plot complication for Greg and Jack. She does not even get to squabble with the wife, which is what third-party roles are usually meant to do.

Sadly, the theme about parenthood has already been tackled in Meet the Fockers thanks to Jack-Jack (the nephew) so the issue presented in this particular installment already seems redundant. Perhaps the producers have sensed that and so they just rehashed the premise of the original and made it another Greg versus Jack episode. This angle would be fine if we were watching a sitcom, then the redundancy would not even matter but this does not work for a movie if you want character development or story advancement. In the end, it is still fun to watch but not necessarily the type of sequel you would pay to see, especially if you are a big fan of the first two.

Meet the Parents was fun because it introduced a brand of comedy with the family as its core. Meet the Fockers was fun because it introduced another dysfunctional family and built the comedy around the dynamics between the two clans. Little Fockers is still enjoyable and certainly makes you laugh but does not really add anything new. In effect it is just a recycled product made in an attempt to milk the franchise, and the not-so-impressive box office returns agree.

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