Jay Roach’s Meet the Parents was not necessarily an exercise in subtlety; featuring a Jewish male nurse named Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker (played by Ben Stiller) as the film’s protagonist. But audience members and critics alike just ate it up, resulting in a total gross of over $166,000,000. Four years later, an inevitable sequel surfaced, entitled Meet the Fockers. Also helmed by Roach, the film received a more lukewarm reception, however, that did not stop the sequel from grossing nearly twice as much as its predecessor. Enter Little Fockers, the latest in the franchise and Paul Weitz’s latest stinker (Roach no longer directs — one can only assume that he ran out of trite puns), following crap like Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, American Dreamz, and In Good Company, is a film so monstrously bad that describing it as the devil’s spawn would be quite the understatement.
Gaylord has come a long way from just being a down-and-out schmuck — now he’s a down-and-out schmuck with children! Yes, ‘Greg’ and Pam (Teri Polo) now have two children: Samantha (Daisy Tahan), who refuses to even speak to Gaylord (understandable), and Henry. But now he must live up to a new title . . . “The Godfocker.” It’s a role appointed to him by his patriarchal father-in-law, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), which requires strong financial standing and well-educated children. Hilarity ensues when the overbearing Jack suspects Gaylord of having an affair with Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba), a hip drug rep who is currently in charge of pushing a groundbreaking erectile-dysfunction medication that is safe for heart patients (which Jack just-so happens to be).
Although the title implies an importance in Samantha and Henry, they’re hardly even mentioned! Aside from being a small plot point (that is never resolved) in Gaylord’s rise to being the head of the family — resulting in a couple of scenes in which they enroll to a prestigious school for Kindergarteners — Little Fockers, which is penned by John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey, instead focuses on impertinent sex-based humor, projectile vomiting, and even amputation! These tactics don’t work, and the constant recycling of the ‘ol ‘Focker’ line just doesn’t help. In addition, Hamburg and Stuckey’s dialogue is contrived — Alba’s character getting the worst treatment, as they insist on making Andi a complete tool who has an overreliance on “young people slang,” (i.e., “That was dope!”) in order to stay relevant.
Not even star power can save Little Fockers. De Niro and Stiller hardly even try, making it wholeheartedly obvious that they’re in it for the paycheck. Dustin Hoffman, who once refused to even reprise his role as Bernie Focker (a mysterious meeting with the film’s distributors changed that) is equally lethargic, and Barbra Streisand, whose character, Roz Focker, now a sex talk-show host, is equally bad. Owen Wilson, who plays Kevin Rawley, Gaylord’s rich buddy, is on par with Alba — both being as wooden as that Yule log you own.
It all ends sweetly (albeit predictably) with a conclusion meant to bring out the themes of family and priority, and constitute a jolly Christmas viewing, however, no amount of schlock and holiday cheer can make Weitz’s “three-quel” anything more than a dead fock.