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   MEET THE PARENTS (2000) 

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CAST
Ben Stiller
Robert De Niro
Teri Polo
Blythe Danner
Nicole DeHuff
James Rebhorn
Owen Wilson
Jon Abrahams
Thomas McCarthy
Phyllis George

DIRECTED BY
Jay Roach

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 108 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Academy Award nomination for Best Song.


I've been a big fan of Ben Stiller's ever since his short-lived TV show on Fox. However, I've also been waiting for him to do a film worthy of his talent. So far, my favorite of his features is the dysfunctional romantic comedy FLIRTING WITH DISASTER. I was hoping MEET THE PARENTS would be a step back into the mature comedy direction, especially since it co-starred Robert De Niro. Unfortunately, it was more SOMETHING ABOUT MARY than I thought and hoped it would be. I'm sure the PG-13 rating had something to do with it. When you're trying to appeal to teenagers and adults the comedy gets broader and more childish.

Some people really enjoy the all out craziness of these type of comedies, I just don't happen to be one of them. There comes a point when the film just loses it's believability and becomes boring. You don't really care what disaster comes next because you know it's coming and is going to have to be worse than the one that preceded it. There was no question that Stiller's job in this movie was to destroy everything in his path, it was just a matter of how hated was he going to be by the end of it. All the big payoffs were so obvious there was no humor in it when they finally came to pass. There was no doubt in my mind, when Greg, Stiller's character, opened the bottle of champagne what was going to happen with the cork. Though the situations were innately funny, the film lacks the joy of surprise. This is a paint-by-the-numbers comedy that works more because of its casting than its script.

The story goes something like this – boy wants to propose to girl, finds out should ask father first, tries to impress father, craziness ensues. There's not much more to the plot. It takes place mainly over a weekend where his girlfriend's sister is getting married. You've probably seen some of the best lines and scenes in the trailer and though it was fairly predictable, there is a great deal of sweetness threaded throughout. Stiller and Polo have a believable relationship and make you feel they actually love one another. De Niro has some great scenes with the family cat that show a softer/weirder side that will definitely make you laugh. I thought some of the subtler scenes – like when Stiller tries to explain what "Puff the Magic Dragon" is all about to De Niro – were actually funnier than his attempt to burn the house down. My favorite scenes came at the end of the film when Stiller takes a flight attendant to task and then turns the tables on De Niro. Classic and incredibly funny stuff you wish you could do in real life.


"Check my pulse on this question, Jack, do I think you're a psycho? Yes!"

De Niro was perfect as the insanely protective father. He nails another great comic performance. Just like ANALYZE THIS, PARENTS proves that he's a talented actor no matter what the genre. You can tell he's a loving father, but I sure wouldn't want to be the man trying to marry his daughter. Stiller is even funny as the future son-in-law desperately trying to make a good impression. He and Teri Polo have good chemistry and she plays off his wackiness very well. I'm not sure I would've been as understanding if my boyfriend wreaked that much havoc on my family. She helped keep his feet grounded in reality and was funny to boot. All the other roles were filled as they should be – no one stands out, good or bad. This is the Stiller/DeNiro show and they make the most of it.

I did enjoy MEET THE PARENTS, just not as much as I hoped I would. It was a bit too juvenile for my tastes, but it is well-produced and well-written. It certainly is one of the funnier films I've seen this year. Unfortunately, it just isn't one to remember. If you're looking for a good, hearty laugh to lighten your mood, it'll satisfy your appetite.



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