Ben Stiller as Greg Focker
Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes
Nicole DeHuff as Debbie Byrnes
Blythe Danner as Dina Byrnes
Teri Polo as Pam Byrnes
Jon Abrahams as Denny Byrnes
James Rebhorn as Larry Banks
Phyllis George as Linda Banks
Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley
Commentary by director Jay Roach & editor Jon Poll
New: 35 never-before-seen outtakes
New: Deleted scenes including “De Niro Unplugged”
New: “Silly Cat Tricks” feaurette
New: “The Truth About Lying” polygraph feaurette
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 48 Minutes
This film was originally released in 2000.
Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) has fallen in love with Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) and wants to marry her. (And yes, his last name is pronounced that way.) However, when he wants to propose to Pam, she finds out that her sister has just become engaged. Greg decides to wait and propose later. He also discovers that Pam’s father, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), expects any future son-in-law to go the old fashioned route and ask him for permission first. Greg very much wants the approval of Pam’s father, so he decides to ask Jack for Pam’s hand in marriage.
Greg and Pam arrive at the Byrnes’ home for her sister’s wedding. As soon as Greg arrives, everything that could go wrong does go wrong. No matter what Greg does or says, Jack seems to disapprove. He also intimidates him on every level.
And things get worse.
Greg discovers that Jack is a retired CIA spy hunter and psychological profiler. He’s a human lie detector and he breaks down everything Greg says looking for something wrong.
And things get worse.
I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that just when you think things can’t get any worse for Greg, they do. Everything comes down to a hilarious, and of course happy ending.
Meet the Parents is rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug references and language.
This is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time. There are several reasons for this. The first is that I can identify with Stiller’s character, as can anyone with in-laws. I’ve often found myself talking to in-laws, saying something stupid, then thinking, “Why did you just say that?” This happens to Greg over and over and over.
Then, of course, there’s the acting. De Niro is the perfect tough guy father-in-law. If you want someone intimidating, there’s nobody better. And De Niro seems to relish making Stiller squirm. Ben Stiller’s character is pretty much the same character he plays in every film, but that’s exactly what is called for here. He’s perfect. Just to watch him try over and over to impress Jack, only to fail, is heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. After watching Stiller bow down to De Niro through the whole movie, then later fight back (only to have that blow up, too), is great.
Finally, the writing in the film is very well done. There’s a great mix of funny dialogue and character interaction as well as a healthy dose of physical humor. A good example of this is a dinner scene early in the film. It starts out with Greg attempting to lead a prayer (though it’s obvious it has been a while since he as done this, if at all), putting his foot in his mouth about Jack’s mother, listening to poetry written by Jack, followed by a bogus story about his days on the farm milking a cat. It ends with a beautifully executed bit of physical humor. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s just a hilarious string of laughs that is typical throughout the film.
The ending is also very funny as all of the loose ends of the film are tied up when De Niro watched surveillance footage of Greg from earlier in the film. It was a perfect note to end on.
As already mentioned, the main character’s name is Greg Focker. Yes, it does sound like the dirty word. It was funny when it was first brought up. With a name like Chitwood, I have to sympathize with the guy. I’ve heard it all. However, the joke is pretty much run into the ground as various characters yell out his last name as a profanity over and over. I personally thought the joke was overdone by the end, but some people giggle like junior high kids every time it repeatedly comes up. That was really my only complaint.
In preparation for the release of the sequel, Meet the Fockers, Universal is releasing this “Special Edition” version of the Meet the Parents DVD. If you already own Meet the Parents then this DVD probably isn’t worth picking up. However, if you’re buying it for the first time, then this is the one that you’ll want to get. Here are the main bonus features that you’ll find:
Commentary by director Jay Roach & editor Jon Poll The commentary is OK, but it probably would have been more fun with Stiller and De Niro contributing. Roach and Poll provide discussion about how they got the actors to improvise, how they had to edit certain scenes, etc.
Outtakes plus 35 never-before-seen outtakes There are a ton of outtakes included on this DVD. It quickly becomes apparent that they had a lot of fun making this movie. There are your typical flubbed lines, cell phones ringing during shots, contagious giggles, and more. These are always fun to see, but I’m not entirely sure that you’d want to get rid of your old Meet the Parents DVD just for this.
Deleted scenes including “De Niro Unplugged” In this new bonus feature, you see a deleted scene where De Niro sings with the wedding band at the reception. Of course he does so very badly.
“Silly Cat Tricks” feaurette This is another of the new additions to the DVD. In it the cat trainer shows how they got the Jinx cats (there was more than one) to do the tricks in the movie. She talks about the challenges of training cats and other such interesting stuff.
“The Truth About Lying” polygraph feaurette This is the last of the new bonus features. In it, the polygraph expert from “Meet My Folks” (which was ironically a rip-off of Meet the Parents) explains how a polygraph works and how close what was shown in the movie was to reality.
Director profile This is a terrible montage of pictures of director Jay Roach set to music. I don’t know why this was included, but it was a waste of space.
The Bottom Line:
Meet the Parents is a really fun movie and well worth checking out for the performances of De Niro and Stiller.