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MEET THE PARENTS / (2000) *** (out of four)
By Blake French:
The main character in "Meet The Parents" is a Chicago-based male nurse,
Greg Focker (pronounced just how it is spelled) who realizes how unlucky a
person can be. He is about to propose to his schoolteacher girlfriend, Pam
(Teri Polo), when her sister Debbie (Nicole Dehuff) calls and explains that
her new fiancé, Dr. Bob Banks (Tom McCarthy), received a blessing from her
father before he asked the question. This information makes Greg reconsider
his method of choice, and instead jumps at the opportunity to meet Pam's
overprotective parents when they fly to the east coast two weeks later to
arrange Debbie's wedding.
At the airport, the attendants loose Greg's parcels. Thus he arrives
without any luggage. Once at Pam's parent's house, they exchange greetings
and aquatint themselves with each other. Pam's parents, Jack and Dina Byrnes
(Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) learn about Greg's unusual last name,
that he does not like cats, and is a male nurse, all facts that do not
settle well with Pam's father. Greg does manage to gift Jack with a pleasant
supply of rare flowers. However, even though Pam explained to Greg that her
dad is in the hobby of rare flowers, he does not seem too impressed.
Even More complications ensue, especially when Greg learns of Jack's
peculiar behaviors and suspicious gadgets, such as a polygraph and hidden
cameras placed in every room of the house, as well as meeting Pam's brother,
Denny (Jon Abrahams), and Debbie's soon to be in laws, Larry (James
Rebhorn), and Linda Banks (Phillis George), and Pam's wealthy ex-fiancée,
Kevin Rawley (Owen Wilson). Soon, Greg's chances of receiving Jack's
permission to wed his daughter become less and less probable as his bad luck
only manages to increase.
The film introduces Greg and Pam with silly quirks that come up later in
the story. Pam's parents are also quite the treat; the movie does not go
over the top but portrays them with serious humor and charismatic wit. It is
De Niro and Stiller who make the movie, however. They form an very effective
comedic chemistry, even more amusing than the likable shtick between De Niro
and Billy Crystal in "Analyze This." The filmmakers take advantage of the
phenomenal tension between Greg and Jack, and place them in one hilarious
situation after another.
While outrageous and at times explosively funny, director Jay Roach takes
the plot seriously. His previous films, including the Austin Powers films
and "Mystery, Alaska," have had trouble with taking anything seriously. But
"Meet The Parents" has emotional connections, develops solid empathy for
Greg, and we really believe he has something precious that can be lost: Pam.
The movie does not completely develop romantic chemistry between Ben
Stiller and Teri Polo, thus there were times when I simply did not believe
the two were really in love. The relationship sometimes feels trite and
contrived. There are also important plot nuggets left only partially
examined: Jack's pot-head son, who could have contributed a lot more to the
drug related material, is left as a plot device to provide another string of
conflicts within Jack and Greg.
I really enjoyed the whimsical performances and opportune casting. Ben
Stiller reprises his "There's Something About Mary" role, with cute charm
and the obscured zany flippancy. Robert De Niro is perfect in a role he was
born to play, with serious attitude that results in the main portion of the
film's funny moments. Blythe Danner is also charming in a kind of role that
is becoming all too usual for her.
"Meet the Parents" is one of the funniest movies of the year. It gives
audiences with a solid story that does not interfere with the comic
material, but contributes to it. The top notch performances and lively
direction also raise the film to a higher level. During a year in which
effective comedies are an endangered species, "Meet The Parents" is a
landmark achievement in light entertainment.
Tags for Meet the Parents Full Movie
, Blythe Danner
, Robert De Niro
, Teri Polo
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