For the third in the series, Little Fockers is surprisingly fresh and funny. Most family franchises lose their way after the sequel (Shrek, for instance) and others should have stuck to just making the one (Pirates of The Caribbean). Meet the Parents, however, still brings in the laughs and it’s all down to great casting.
The original pairing of Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller still works beautifully, with their strained family relationship being tested to the limits whilst Greg is in training to become the next head of the family. In a completely over the top and ridiculous final set piece at the twins’ 5th birthday party, the two fight it out in the ball pool: this scene has been a long time coming and despite its obvious unreality, is in keeping with the silly and always cringe-worthy revelations of the series which Stiller does so well.
Owen Wilson is again hilarious as Pam’s ex who is still in love with her and continues to reign supreme over Greg in her father’s estimations, despite his outrageous attempts to win her back, including a scarily life-like tattoo of her on his back and his unabashed displays of wealth and generosity for Pam and her children.
The whole cast works together beautifully, with Blythe Danner and Teri Polo doing excellent jobs as the straight-women for the male comics. The children are also less bratty than most young actors, and even Jessica Alba is excellently annoying.
The real stars of the franchise, since Meet the Fockers, for me have been Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as Greg’s parents. Their on-screen chemistry is brilliant, especially their believable portrayal of a middle aged couple still very sexually active, and their teamwork to continue to embarrass their son.
For me, the only thing lacking in this movie was Hoffman and Streisand, as their characters take second position to Pam’s parents De Niro and Blythe Danner despite being equally interesting and well-cast.
All in all, a brilliant end to a great trilogy, and here’s hoping the studio quit while they’re still ahead.