1.5 Stars out of 4
The most disappointing thing about Little Fockers is that it is not about its title. If there is a shred of reason for this threequel to be made is for it to be about children and for everyone, all us very impatient audiences. The two little Fockers – Samantha (Daisy Tahan) and Henry (Colin Baiocchi) - are just puerile nuisances, who are onlookers of the ‘drama’. They’re convenient enough to speak a dreadfully unfunny one-liner and then we cut to a closeup of Jack Byrnes’ (Robert De Niro) eyes. If the first two films did not hammer this home, Jack’s a real intimidator.
The regular cast are as follows: Gaylord/Greg Focker (Ben Stiller), Pam Focker (Teri Polo), Dina Byrnes (Blythe Danner), Roz Focker (Barbara Streisand), Bernie Focker (Dustin Hoffman), Kevin Rawley (Owen Wilson) and the rest that have been mentioned. To add up a few minutes to the run time, we’re even introduced to a few others: Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba) - oh and it is too clever, her name is the feminine form of the Oceans’ Eleven star, isn’t that neat? Even Harvey Keitel plays a rugged Randy Weir, and when he shows off to De Niro in some scenes we expect buddy Bob to mutter: “Suck on this!” A little reference back to the good old Taxi Driver days.
What essentially encumbers Little Fockers is a ridiculously vexing parody. It’s like bad Scorsese-Coppola satire slithered its way into the left over rubbish that is Little Fockers. The script does not try about the first minute in or so. What we have are two very different, but nicely amenable families – the Byrnes’s and the Focker’s – who are caught in that stage of life where everything is fine. Some characters are taking up Spanish dancing, some of them have their own talk show, and others are just looking to find that clandestine side again.
Here is where Little Fockers does my most hated of all contrivances in film: it takes a scenario that could easily be solved in say twenty minutes and a good sit down and then snowballs into a 100 minute laugh-free comedy (I note that irony) where each scene builds from lazy to just plain desperate. The most discouraging thing here is that director Paul Weisz cannot even deceive his audience that there is a reason to make this film. We should always be suspicious when a movie releases a third movie, because if you are not The Matrix or say Lord of the Rings, there is no need for the third time around.
But Weisz fails to convince us that the material is worthy because Little Fockers lacks the urgency the other two had (even though I found Meet The Fockers comedically devoid). In the first film, a hailed classic, we were on the tip of our toes when Gaylord went to ‘meet the parents.’ In the second go-around, we were somewhat anxious to see how absurd the situations would be when we ‘met the Fockers.’ Now, I’m not exactly sure what the pay off or suspense is. There is a Bat Mitzvah arranged for the little Fockers at the end, but that is about as dramatic as a clown on Sominex.
So you will find yourself very letdown by Little Fockers. When Jessica Alba takes role and tries to stir conflict, we become more aware that she is just a pretty face and could use a few days at Dramaturgy 101. I was particularly galled in a scene where Andi hits on Greg to the point that they flop down in a muddy pit passed out on alcohol and a Viagra-like drug. That scene relies on Alba’s hope for talent that by the end of it we’re exhausted from gawking.
So when the humour tries to distract the pointless story, everything feels tasteless. De Niro calls Greg the “Godfalker” and a remix of Nina Rota’s theme song simmers in the background. Dreadful self-referentiality. And even the sexual innuendo is particularly tasteless. At one moment, a principle named Prudence (Laura Dern, I miss her David Lynch films by the second) mistakes Greg and Jack to be a gay couple. The awkwardness following suggests something unfunny: how bad it would be to not be the straight type. In the last scene, when we expect things to warm up, there is a jarring joke bordering on anti-semitism. But it’s okay, I guess, it came from Hoffman (who is too underused here).
Not much to marvel in here. I’ve written this review more in tone to a one-star review, which is where I was - until the credits. As the credits rolled, we see Jack discovering a great cyber site – just guess – and watching a video of Greg impersonating Jack on a podium. Then it is done in remix and the youth crowd chortle in their ability to relate. That’s a good attack on human nuance. The one-and-a-half star marginally arose…
Little Fockers, unfortunately, never finds any room for subtleties. No moments for good-spiritedness and only some marginal times for fun. At least there was one reach for parody that gave me a tickle. When Stiller is in a ball pool, Jack hides beneath and there is a jocular spinoff of Jaws. Regardless and needless to say, Weisz - you’re gonna need a bigger (and better) movie.