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Meet the Fockers Reviews

The inevitable follow-up to successful comedy-of-discomfort MEET THE PARENTS (2000) delivers fewer laughs than its predecessor, which leaves too much time in which to ponder what a sad spectacle it really is — two professionals in their thirties reduced to childish squirming and whining by their overbearing parents. Engaged for two years, male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and schoolteacher Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) can't set a wedding date until Greg screws up the nerve to introduce frosty WASPs Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner) to his uninhibited Jewish parents, Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand). Complicating matters are former-CIA bigwig Jack's pathological devotion to honesty and the fact that Greg hasn't been entirely forthcoming about his family. Strictly speaking, they are a doctor and a lawyer, but Bernie abandoned his practice to be a househusband and therapist Roz specializes in geriatric sexuality and writes books like "Is Your Vagina Happy?" They're frank, effusive, spontaneous and touchy-feely; the Byrnes are conservative, straightlaced control freaks. Within hours of the Byrnes' arrival chez Focker, they've learned that Greg slept in his parents' bed until he was 12, amassed a formidable collection of 7th-place ribbons and good sportsmanship trophies that don't much impress the ferociously competitive Jack, and lost his virginity to the family's super-sexy Latin housekeeper, Isabel (Alanna Ubach). By the end of their first night, Greg's lovingly preserved foreskin has made its way from the pages of the family album into the fondue and he's caught his dad licking whipped cream off his mom's bountiful breasts. It's a wonder Greg can still conceive of getting married at all. Several intersecting subplots provide flurries of frantic but not especially funny plot developments. Jack becomes convinced that Greg fathered Isabel's 15-year-old, Jorge (Ray Santiago). Roz tries to give the Byrnes advice about spicing up their marriage. Jack tries to turn his grandson, Baby Jack (Spencer and Bradley Pickren), into a prodigy. The Byrnes' disdainful purebred cat, Mr. Jinks, flushes the Fockers' scruffy, oversexed mutt down a chemical toilet. Essentially a big-screen variation on the series Dharma & Greg, the film's sitcom rhythms ensure that the quiet character moments that redeemed MEET THE PARENTS are sacrificed to a rigid setup/payoff structure. Danner, whose Dina actually resembles a human being, would be its saving grace if her gracefully controlled performance weren't lost in a sea of braying caricatures.