2005-01-07 / Columnists


By Robert Snyder

While it would seem impossible to upstage the hilarity of “Meet the Parents,” “Meet the Fockers” manages to keep pace laugh-wise with the hit of four years ago. In fact, at times, it appears to overwhelm its predecessor with jokes. But “Parents”/”Fockers” director Jay Roach does this by opening a septic tank of sex and toilet humor.

In the new film, our humiliated hero, Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Ben Stiller), is less of a central figure, as he’s up against such luminaries as Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Steisand stealing major screen presence as Greg’s aging hippie parents, Bernie and Roz. After announcing his engagement to Pam Martha Byrnes (Teri Polo), Greg makes arrangements for Pam’s tightly-wound parents, Jack (Robert De Niro) and Dina (Blythe Danner), to head to Florida to mingle with the Focker folks. Greg is justifiably apprehensive about the to-close-for-comfort encounter, what with Roz’s job as a sex therapist for the elderly and Bernie’s lapsed lawyer-Mr. Mom lifestyle. Jack forgoes the airline route south in favor of a live-in trailer that’s CIA ready for Iraq. The uptight ex-spy allows Greg to assume the role of co-captain to his trailer commander. On board are Pam, Dina, the Byrne’s toddler nephew, and Jinx (Jack’s beloved cat, who now can not only use, but flush a toilet).

The Byrnes’ arrival at the Fockers is an immediate oil-and-water situation, as Jack recoils from Bernie touchy-feely welcome. Friction even erupts between pets when Focker’s over-sexed Chihuahua, Moses, attacks Jinx and winds up under the power of her paw in the push-button commode. Hoffman is in great form, physically and mentally, playing the perfect counterpart to De Niro’s epitome of anal compulsiveness. And Streisand gets down and dirty doing the definitive body rub to stiff-backed Jack.

“Meet the Fockers” is fun if you don’t mind more than a bit of bathroom banter. The packed audiences should ensure a sequel to the sequel, which means Greg may be suffering humiliation until he’s a grandfather.

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