Little Fockers


Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes
Ben Stiller as Greg Focker
Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley
Dustin Hoffman as Bernie Focker
Barbra Streisand as Roz Focker
Blythe Danner as Dina Byrnes
Teri Polo as Pam Focker
Jessica Alba as Andi Garcia
Laura Dern as Prudence
Kevin Hart as Nurse Louis
Daisy Tahan as Samantha Focker
Colin Baiocchi as Henry Focker
Thomas McCarthy as Dr. Bob
Harvey Keitel as Randy Weir

Directed by Paul Weitz

Using familiar characters and jokes is both the biggest strength and the biggest weakness of “Little Fockers.” It’s fun to see the characters you know and love again, but they don’t bring a lot new to the table.

This is the third film in the “Meet the Parents Trilogy.”

When Jack ByrneS’ other son in law, Dr. Bob, divorces his wife, Jack becomes quite concerned. He realizes that the Byrnes family needs a new godfather, and Greg Focker is the only suitable candidate. Greg again finds himself under Jack’s scrutiny at a bad time. He’s under pressure at work, he’s facing financial strains, and a cute and flirtatious pharmaceutical representative is courting him to help promote their erectile dysfunction drug. To make matters worse, Pam’s old flame Kevin Rawley comes into town to help celebrate the Focker kids’ 5th birthday. Needless to say, things go wrong.

“Little Fockers” is rated PG-13 for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content.

What Worked:
Watching “Little Fockers” is a lot like putting on an old pair of shoes. They’re not new or exciting, but they’re comfortable and familiar. As this movie opens, we’re quickly reintroduced to the characters we’ve come to know and love. Robert De Niro is still intense and imposing as Jack Byrnes. Ben Stiller is still earnest and stressed out as Greg Focker. The two don’t take long to find themselves in uncomfortable positions where Greg squirms under the piercing gaze of Jack. It’s all very familiar but some fun to revisit. We also get brief cameos by Dustin Hoffman as Bernie Focker and Barbra Streisand as Roz Focker. Blythe Danner and Teri Polo return to their background roles as well.

While a lot of “Little Fockers” follows the familiar formula of Jack vs. Greg, the creators do make a little effort to add something new to the “Focker-verse.” We’re introduced to Jessica Alba as Andi Garcia. She’s young, hot, and flirtatious with Greg. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Greg will eventually be caught in a compromising position with her. Alba is surprisingly funny in the role and seems to have no problem taking her role over the top as we see in the finale. We also see more of Greg in his role as a nurse and all the uncomfortable situations that can create. I have friends who are nurses and some of the stories they tell make the stuff that Greg goes through look positively tame. Kevin Hart manages to generate laughs on his own as Nurse Louis simply by making baffled facial expressions.

Be sure to stay for the credits to see a video of Jack speaking to a doctor’s conference. It’s quite funny and well worth sticking around for.

What Didn’t Work:
As fun as it is to revisit these familiar characters and situations, “Little Fockers” relies a bit too heavily on the previous films. The first 20 minutes of the movie are spent simply re-introducing all of the characters doing their same old shtick. Roz Focker talks openly about sex. Bernie is eccentric. Jack is insanely intense. Then we have to go through Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley stalking Pam again. When the movie briefly ventures into new territory, you start to think, “Ah! Now it’s going to kick into gear!” But then it returns to the same old formula of Jack battling Greg. There’s one scene where Jack and Greg conspire to get revenge on Dr. Bob and it’s fun because you see them actually working together for a change. The same is the case when Jack and Greg check out a kindergarten for the kids and are mistaken for a gay couple. It’s one of the few times they get along and it backfires on them. It’s these moments where the movie is at its best and I wished they did it more.

The movie is called “Little Fockers,” but the children don’t play a huge role in the storyline. I was almost expecting a Focker version of “Parenthood,” and while there are such moments, this isn’t it. We see Henry Focker puke on Greg, repeat some things to a teacher that as a parent you’d hope were never repeated, and have a crisis with a pet. But beyond these scenes, this movie isn’t about the trials and tribulations of raising young kids. It’s all about the father-in-law vs. The son-in-law. I think this was a lost opportunity.

The Bottom Line:
If you liked the first two movies, then you’ll want to check out “Little Fockers.” It’s good for some light entertainment. It’s utterly forgettable and not as good as it could have been, but it is fun to revisit the characters and see what they’re up to now.