Title: Little Fockers
Directed By: Paul Weitz
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Harvey Keitel, Laura Dern, Colin Baiocchi, Daisy Tahan
Where do you go with the third film of a franchise? According to Little Fockers, really nowhere, but what did you expect from a series that began with Meet the Parents and then dove straight into a rough patch with Meet the Fockers? Going up from there would have taken a wildly talented screenwriter, which apparently is something this production didn’t have. All director Paul Weitz could really do is aim to keep the moviegoers coming without letting the quality fall any lower and Little Fockers certainly reflects that.
The Fockers are back – plus two. After their wedding on Focker Island, Greg and Pam (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo) returned to Chicago and had twins, Henry and Samantha (Colin Baiocchi and Daisy Tahan). With their birthday fast approaching, Greg and Pam are busy arranging a big bash with the whole family and, of course, that means Pam’s father, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), will have his eye on Greg the entire time. Sure enough, Jack puts the pressure on Greg right when he arrives telling Greg of his plan to turn him into his successor as the head of the Byrnes clan and dubs him “The Godfocker.”
Not only does Greg feel the pressure to live up to his new title, but he’s also got to deal with an old friend – Kevin (Owen Wilson). When Kevin’s proposal plans don’t go as expected, he comes to Chicago for the party. As noble as his intentions may be, everything Kevin does, as usual, brings him one step closer to Pam and makes Greg increasingly jealous. However, Pam has someone to keep an eye on herself, Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba). Andi is an unusually gorgeous drug rep who recruits Greg to represent her erectile dysfunction medication, Sustengo.
And that’s not even the least of it. Naturally, with so many famous faces in Little Fockers, there are going to be a ton of characters and every single one of those people will need a decent amount of screen time. This is the film’s primary issue. Not only is there too much to focus on throughout the film, but it’s quite clear that there were a number of portions that never made it to the final cut.
The whole birthday party scenario is an incredibly weak driving force. It’s where the film begins and where it ends, but is barely mentioned in the midsection. As for the rest of the story, just about everything is presented in skits. There’s the situation at Greg and Pam’s new house involving a contractor played by Harvey Keitel who doesn’t get his work done on time and the issue of trying to get the kids into a private school. Neither matter is resolved and ultimately could have been removed from the film entirely. Laura Dern is completely wasted as the head of the Early Human School as is Keitel in his role.
Then there are the romantic threats, Andi and Kevin. As the newcomer, Andi actually fits in rather well. The character is a bit over the top, as is Alba’s performance, but that’s the nature of the material. It’s quite obvious from the moment Andi meets Greg where their relationship is going, but it does result in some pretty hysterical moments, which makes the predictability of the scenario just a minor issue. The same is true of Wilson’s character, Kevin. We know Kevin from the last two films and know where he stands – right in the middle of Greg and Pam. Nothing changes in Little Fockers except for the fact that Wilson’s role has grown exponentially. This would have been a fantastic addition if more emphasis was placed on why Kevin is there in the first place, to create a rift in Pam and Greg’s relationship.
Luckily, Little Fockers is part of a franchise and that means the film is worthwhile as long as it meets moviegoers’ expectations. The expectations here? More of what we got in Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers and that’s exactly what Weitz delivers. We get more awkwardly tense moments with Greg and Jack, sex talk from Greg’s mom, Roz, a lot of Kevin’s misguided guidance, sweeter moments with Greg and Pam, Pam’s mom, Dina, putting more of Roz’s sex tips to use and more. But we also get a lot of dirty jokes and slapstick. It was hilarious when Greg flooded the Byrnes’ backyard with sewage and when he bashed Pam’s sister in the face with a volleyball, but here, this type of humor is taken a bit too far. Clearly someone is going to wind up taking that erectile dysfunction medication, a kid is going to vomit and nobody is going to get to eat that freshly cooked turkey.
There’s certainly a lot to pick on here, but what it comes down to is that Little Fockers still makes due on your expectations. While there are a ton of painfully predictable and plain old unfunny gags, in between is some pretty creative and hilarious material. Combine that with consistent performances from the returning cast and you wind up with at least an enjoyable experience. No, you won’t be quoting this one for years to come like Meet the Parents (minus one line of dialogue that’s too naughty to reprint here), but there’s enough to warrant this Focker family visit.
By Perri Nemiroff