Review

Little Fockers

Director    Paul Weitz
Starring    Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Jessica Alba
Release    22 DEC (US) 22 DEC (UK)    Certificate 12A
2 stars

Rob

26th December 2010

Don't be fooled, the Focker sprogs appear merely as an excuse to make the title sound rude and to fuel a few recycled gags. Little Fockers is otherwise business as usual: good ol' family feudin' whilst Bob De Niro piles another layer of dirt onto the coffin that is his dying career. And for giggles, he drags Harvey Keitel down with him. Martin Scorsese must be very disappointed.

After three films and ten years, it's tough keeping the same gags fresh. Jay Roach knew this so jumped ship to have Dinner With Schmucks instead. So up steps American Pie helmer Paul Weitz to attempt to squeeze some last few giggles out of the old, tired Focker. I mean, for fock's sake.

[gallery]After suffering a minor heart attack, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) feels it's time for him to name a new family Patriarch, or 'Godfocker', if you will. Despite bestowing this title upon Greg (Ben Stiller), it doesn't stop him being any less suspicious of his number one son-in-law, and suspects him of having an affair with Jessica Alba's attractive pharmaceuticals sales rep. Cue father-in-law/son-in-law fisticuffs, hijinx, Godfather references and rude-sounding words that stopped being funny half an hour into the first film.

Here's the problem with this tired, lifeless sequel; with the original movie, it's conceivable that Jack would attempt to break up Greg and Pam, feeling he isn't good enough for his first-born. But after ten years, a happy marriage and two five-year-old children together, it's highly unlikely that Jack would still feel this about his son-in-law. It's a far-fetched, unrealistic idea that's being stretched out as far as it can possibly go.

Much like the previous films, Greg and Jack are still going at each other whilst the rest of the extended family hangs around in the background shaking their heads, or more likely, cashing their huge cheques. It's 'The Bob and Ben Show', so despite everyone returning (albeit with some re-shoots, Dustin!), the rest of cast barely get a look in.

Teri Polo and Blythe Danner are on hand for a few reaction shots and little else, whilst Barbra Streisand just floats about aimlessly. Dustin Hoffman appears at the beginning then crops up at the end. Owen Wilson seems to have fared better than most but why an ex-fiancÚ is still on the scene after ten years is just a little bit obsessive and odd. Oh, and the less said about Harvey Keitel's pointless cameo as a contractor, the better.

It's a shame that this much talent is wasted in a lazily written script that only seems to care about two characters, while brushing everyone else aside. How lazy, I hear you ask? Well, Jessica Alba's sexy sales rep is called Andi Garcia, which is good only for a couple of cheap Andy Garcia jokes. But we do see her drunk and in her underwear, so we can look past the crap name gags.

What began as a decent idea ten years ago - a relatable comedy that thrived on family awkwardness - has become its own parody, taking the original joke and running away with it, with everyone involved inspired more by the paycheques than the script. But without much of a plot to play with, the half-arsed cast have very little to grasp hold of. Let's hope this is the last addition to the family, otherwise some careers really will be focked beyond repair.

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