Hapless Stiller Focks with De Niro
"Meet the Parents" is the sort of movie which Ben Stiller excels in, playing the hapless fool who no matter how good his intentions are always ends up getting into trouble and then makes things worse by trying to sort the mess out. Sometimes these movies fall flat on their face as they recycle the same gags throughout the movie and lose focus on the actual story but in the case of "Meet the Parents" it certainly doesn't and is one of Ben Stiller's better outings playing the fool.
All Greg Focker (Ben Stiller - Keeping the Faith) wants to do is impress his girlfriend Pam's (Teri Polo - The Arrival) parents so that he can ask her father, Jack (Robert De Niro - Analyze This) for his blessing to marry her. But when they visit the family home for Pam's sister's wedding things don't go well for the awkward Greg. Between an overly protective father, a toilet trained cat and a seemingly perfect ex-boyfriend misunderstandings and mistakes lead to a nightmarish stay for the hapless Greg especially when Jack uncovers Greg's real name.
The thing is with "Meet the Parents" is that the storyline of a young man trying to impress his prospective in-laws has been used countless times as the source of humour on the screen, although I can't remember a movie which used it as the whole basis for a movie rather than just a few scenes. But in the case of "Meet the Parents" it works perfectly without becoming tiresome or boring and that is partially down to "Meet the Parents" containing numerous sub elements, such as a sisters wedding, an ex boyfriend as well as a talented cat which provide plenty of fodder for various scenes.
As for the humour in "Meet the Parents" at times it does feel a little lame and occasionally I had a feeling that ideas had been poached from other comedies, but it didn't really matter as it all works. When Greg's real name 'Gaylord' gets discovered we know that we are going to get hit by jokes about being called Gaylord Focker but it doesn't matter because the jokes are never dwelled upon for too long or repeated too often. Which is why "Meet the Parents" is a very funny movie, the jokes never become repetitive or boring.
The real reason why "Meet the Parents" is such a success is down to the casting or Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller. Stiller is in comfortable territory here and plays a character which is similar to numerous others he has done in other movies, that being the put upon guy who seems to be the butt of most of the jokes. The thing is Stiller is very good at this and although we have seen it all before it doesn't matter as watching him embarrass himself is part of the movies charm. De Niro again returns to familiar territory playing that slightly domineering character with more than a touch of comedy about him. Whilst some may criticize De Niro for basically mocking his tough guy image over and over again it works well and why not use your past to build up new characters. The pairing of Stiller and De Niro may not sound like it should work but it does brilliantly.
What this all boils down to is that "Meet the Parents" is basically an all round enjoyable movie which will have you laughing through out. Both De Niro and Stiller are the major pulling points for the movie and bounce off each other quite brilliantly.