In which Gerry Hayes considers Meet The Parents and punches himself in the face again and again and again...
Meet The Parents, 2000.
Directed by Jay Roach.
Starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo.
Screenplay by Greg Glienna.
Gah! Nooo! How can one film have so much bad in it? Please, why do you make me think about it? Why? What have I ever done to you? Please, no more. Oh, sweet mother of stinkers.
These are just some of the things that ran through my head on considering Meet The Parents. As frequently happens with these things, I may be in a minority - from the box-office takings and the sequel(s) it seems there are many people out there who like this film. I can only assume that a lot of day trips were organised from a lot of care-homes for the simple and bemused. I imagine them all, sitting in the dark, a trickle of drool hanging precariously from their chins as they beam vacantly at the screen, generally having a good time in their feeble-minded way. I imagine them and I want to kick each of them in the groin because it’s their fault there are films like this.
Stiller is Greg Focker or more accurately, as we so hilariously find out, Gaylord Focker - Gay Focker, get it? Oh, my sides, my sides! He’s going out with Pam (Polo) and is off to her sister’s wedding where he’ll get to meet her parents for the first time. A nerve-wracking experience to be sure and one rife with comedic potential. Amazing then, that this film fails, utterly, to find any.
De Niro plays Pam’s dad, Jack. What happened, Bobby? Christ. Watching De Niro do comedy is like watching your hero, someone you always looked up to, get drunk at a wedding and start groping strangers before getting in a fight, falling over and pissing themselves while muttering profanities at your mum from his puddle on the floor. I hate watching De Niro do comedy. He’s no good at it. Have we learned nothing from Analyse This? Gurning moronically is only funny if you’re doing it for a baby. Even then, you’re pushing it. Please stop, Bobby. Please stop the horror (for ‘horror’, read ‘comedy’).
Where were we? Right... Greg’s an imbecile and Jack is both a grumpy twat and a retired CIA operative (although touched on elsewhere, the latter is something that feels shoehorned in, mainly, to fit the "hysterical" scene where he subjects Greg to a polygraph test). Greg’s desperate to impress and Jack hates him - nothing wrong with the premise but there’s such a massive dearth of subtlety that all the laughs are dragged from the film and replaced with an empty, wincing embarrassment.
No subtlety. No realism. No humour.
Meet The Parents is an incongruous, doleful bundle of unamusing gags, crammed awkwardly together and tied up with sticky strings of tenuous plot. It makes me sad.
Read more I Sat Through That? right here.
Gerry Hayes is a garret-dwelling writer subsisting on tea, beer and Flame-Grilled Steak flavour McCoy’s crisps. You can read about other stuff he doesn't like on his blog at http://stareintospace.com or you can have easy, bite-sized bits of him at http://twitter.com/gerryhayes