In the day and age of sequels being thrown at us like lies from the media, the idea of a sequel surpassing its predecessor rarely occurs. I can only think of a few films that have achieved such a title. Titles like Aliens, The Bourne Supremacy and the recent comedy sequel Meet the Fockers are perfect examples, the latter which is actually funny and charming instead of being cruel and rather mean like the first.
As we all know in Meet the Parents, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) asked his girlfriend Pam (Tea Leoni) to marry him, which she accepted. Only it wasn’t as open and shut as this. See first Greg had to ask the permission of Pam’s father Jack (Robert De Niro) for his daughter’s hand. Jack, an ex-CIA specialist, basically tried to torture Greg into not wanting to marry Pam by ridiculing him in front of others and digging up every little secret he could. And let’s not even bring in the other completely childish and rude family members who act like jerks. Anyhow, Jack finally comes to the realization that if Greg loves his daughter so much, he can marry her. But now there comes a dilemma. Just like Greg had to meet Pam’s parents, it would only be polite for Jack and company to meet Greg’s parents. The only problem here is that Greg’s parents, well, are a bit odd.
I’ll be the first one out of the gate in admitting that the first time I saw Meet the Fockers, I didn’t like it at all. I thought a majority of the jokes were dull, stupid and not even remotely funny. But upon a second and third viewing, the film actually tends to grow on us as an audience. We see a man who wants nothing more than everything to work out for him and his future wife. He doesn’t want to be embarrassed by his extremely unique parents. In fact he goes so far as to plan that nothing bad will happen. Yet every possible problem that could ever occur unfortunately occurs for Greg. He’s subjected to a series of 20 questions by Jack who can’t seem to believe that Greg is a common good-hearted person, but unlike the first film were Jack is overly mean to Greg, the situations Jack puts Greg in (with the exception of the truth drug at the end), seemed in order. I’m sure many fathers who don’t want to give up their daughters would probably go to the same lengths, simply just to make sure that their daughter is marrying a person is genuine and wholesome.
Everything I’ve described above makes me sound like someone would probably would have hated this film. And I did, until another viewing. Upon that second viewing, I realized that the film tended to parody more of a modern life family than the first (come on now folks.. admit it.. we all have those hidden secrets we don’t want anyone to find out and we all have those parents who always seem to act different only in front of guests). I suppose this is why Fockers works on the levels it does. It just seems more genuine and funny to me.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, Meet the Fockers boasts a better transfer than the recent Meet the Parents, but that’s not something to get overly excited about as Fockers still has a few problem areas.
Color usage, at least for myself, seemed better placed here than Parents as I noticed numerous sequences where everything looked brighter and clearer. Take a look outside when everyone is playing touch football. Everything looks clear and well placed with solid greens and beautiful sky blues. Fleshtones, on some of the close-ups, were spot-on for the most part. The problem area I found (something that plagued the first film as well) was that a majority of the film’s detail seemed oddly placed. By this I mean that extreme close-ups of some of the film’s objects (take a look at the sequence where Greg is babysitting little Jack) displayed a rather bright fuzziness when looked at. There is also a bit of dirt here and there, but nothing overly noticeable. Grain is not really present for the most part. A little bit of EE shows up on some of the borders during the outdoor sequences. All in all this is a good transfer, but I guess I expected something more.
Arriving with the standard affair via the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Meet the Fockers generally sounds pleasing throughout the course of the film.
Dialogue, which takes up a majority of the film, sounds perfect with no real instance of drop-out or muddled dialogue. Bass, surprisingly, was more responsive than one might come to expect from a comedy film. The sub was quite active, particularly during some of the film’s quieter sequences (a nice slight rumble added quite a bit to the overall quality here). Dynamic Range, while slight, was noticeable mostly during the party sequence toward the end of the film. All in all this is a good enough effort that suits the film just fine.
- Audio Commentary with director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll: Now this one came as quite the surprise for myself as this commentary with quite insightful and actually entertaining. All too often comedic commentaries find the directors simply praising the actors and rarely speaking on the film at hand. Roach and Poll share a few comments, all of which are interesting and help to add to the overall quality of the commentary track.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get a few deleted scenes, most of which are somewhat funny and seemed like they might have added a bit to the film’s overall tone.
- Fockers’ Family Portrait: At about 6 minutes in length, Streisand, Stiller and Hoffman give us a few comments about the film.
- Matt Lauer ‘Meets the Fockers’: This run is 6 minutes in length and covers a basic chat Matt Lauer had between all the main characters.
- Inside the Litter Box: Behind-the-Scenes with Jinx the Cat: At 6 minutes in length, this one serves as a spoof to the film’s star (obviously the star is a cat).
- The Manary Gland: This one runs 4 minutes and describes how De Niro manary gland was created for the film.
- The Adventures of a Baby Wrangler: This one is short at 5 minutes and takes a look at how the cast felt about working with the film’s various baby actors.
- Blooper Reel: At 11 minutes in length, this is hilarious as it shows Stiller and De Niro in their natural state.
When it comes to sequels, Meet the Fockers hits that rare territory in that the film is far better than its original. Universal has put together a good package here with acceptable video and audio and interesting, albeit short, features. Recommended for fans and worth a rental for those who enjoy funny comedies.