x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Little Fockers

Little Fockers, out on DVD now, isn't a truly terrible film but fails to reach the comic heights of the first Fockers film.

Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson
**

Little Fockers is the third film in this particular franchise and it will come as little surprise that it falls some way short of its predecessors in terms of both imagination and laughs. Meet the Parents was an amusing take on a comic scenario; Meet the Fockers didn't quite measure up, but was entertaining nonetheless; with Little Fockers, alas, the phrase "scraping the barrel" springs all too quickly to mind.

As these films have progressed, the genuine, family-friendly laughs have been replaced by a general descent into bawdy humour that frequently veers towards bad taste.

That said, it is not all bad. The dynamic between Robert De Niro, as ex-CIA interrogator Jack Byrnes, and his son-in-law Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) is still strong enough to raise a smile, although a couple of scenes will make old-school De Niro fans cringe. Owen Wilson also provides laughs as Pam's wealthy ex-boyfriend Kevin, the spiritual soul who is adored by everyone bar Greg.

When a minor heart attack forces him to consider his own mortality, Jack comes to the not altogether happy conclusion that it is Greg who must be prepped to take over his role as the patriarch of the family. To a man heavily ensconced in domestic life, with bills to pay, twin children and their future education to consider as well as stress at work, this news isn't entirely welcome.

As Jack and his wife Dina (Blythe Danner) descend on the Focker household to celebrate their grandchildren's sixth birthday, it doesn't take long for a suspicious Jack to become convinced that Greg is having an affair with an alluring, overly enthusiastic colleague (Jessica Alba). Cue confusion, a few tasteless jokes and some contrived scenes involving Harvey Keitel as an uncooperative builder.

Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand are also back as Greg's parents, although it feels as though they are making fleeting guest appearances (particularly in Hoffman's case) rather than playing roles that are in any way integral to the action. This disjointed sense pervades much of the film: scenes feel as though they have been hastily pieced together, without any real care and attention.

Ultimately, it's the cast (De Niro, Wilson and Stiller, in particular) that prevents Little Fockers from being a total failure. You can't help but feel that the film itself is not a worthy vehicle for their talents, though. It has humorous moments, but these are few and far between.

Time to call it a day on this franchise.