LITTLE FOCKERS Review
The saying goes that good things come in 3’s, and applying this adage to movies rings mostly true. The third Toy Story movie was arguably the strongest. The third Shrek film was as creative as the original. And LITTLE FOCKERS, the third installment in the Robert DeNiro/Ben Stiller Meet The Parents franchise, is the most enjoyable sequel since the popular first film – a rather pleasant surprise.
Here’s what Little Fockers COULD have been: a been-there, done-that screenplay that employs the same tired gags from the first two films, and one that lacks in creativity and new storylines. Instead, Little Fockers is a surprisingly fresh and funny sequel, and while it does draw at times on the old gags of the past and done-to-death jokes, it has enough to offer that you’re not caught up in comparing it to earlier films of the franchise. True, there are points when you wonder if the series has overstayed its welcome…until you realize the purpose of these films has and always will be about having an enjoyable time at the theater. Those who look at the film with the seriousness and depth of the third Toy Story movie will be disappointed, but those who simply want to see the bookend to a franchise that has provided years of laughs will be ultimately satisfied.
Little Fockers picks up five years after the previous sequel, Meet The Fockers. Greg (Ben Stiller) and Pam (Teri Polo) are now proud parents to five year old twins, though due to work commitments in Greg’s life at the hospital, he’s finding it hard to balance fatherhood with his professional career. Because nothing is ever easy when it comes to the life of the Fockers, Greg is additionally dealing with father-in-law Jack (Robert DeNiro’s) heart condition. Faced with the prospect of deciding who should take his place as patriarch, he deems Greg a worthy successor of his “head of the family” title and once again puts him through a number of over-the-top tests to make sure he’s “competent” enough to do the job.
The cast of Little Fockers is heavy with cameos of familiar movie-star faces – among them, Harvey Keitel as the contractor working on Greg’s new house, and Jessica Alba as Andi Garcia, an attractive drug rep who gets herself tangled in Greg’s life and complicates his mission to win over Jack. It’s almost like a family reunion to see Stiller and De Niro back together, as they remind us that no matter how over the top they get in their antics, they still have the ability to bring their chemistry to the screen in an unbridled way. Owen Wilson’s return as Kevin, Pam’s ex-boyfriend, is a welcome familiar face after being absent since the first movie although his role in the film seems, at points, to be stretched to accommodate the storyline. Truthfully, the only major weak link in the cast is the wonderful Barbara Streisand as Greg’s mom, who is sadly underused, leaving the movie-goer to wonder why more of an effort wasn’t made to include her in the screenplay.
In short, Little Fockers succeeds in capping out the franchise in an enjoyable, funny manner, proving that not all sequels need to radiate the “been-there, done that” mentality. Perhaps it best proves that good things really do come in 3’s – especially if they’re movies that have been a part of our hearts for a number of years.