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Meet the Parents
IMDB Rating: 7.0/10 from PG-13 votes
Release: 06 Oct 2000 /

Meet the Parents

Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Jay Roach,
Stars: , , ,
Synopsis: Male nurse Greg Focker meets his girlfriend's parents before proposing, but her suspicious father is every date's worst nightmare.

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Critic Reviews


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.

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