“Little Fockers” Administers a Double Dose of Blah

This Holiday season Hollywood is apparently taking a break from Christmas movies. In fact, Hollywood seems to be having a serious love affair with remakes and unnecessary sequels. Who really asked for a reboot of The A-Team or Tron? Absolutely no one asked for MacGruber. So what is going on? Your guess is as good as mine, but here we are with a new film that now provides us with a Focker trilogy.

We catch up with the Focker clan years later after they have had two little kids (we learn three minutes apart), one boy and one girl. They are living in Chicago and waiting on their house in the suburbs to be finished. The foreman on the building crew is played by Harvey Keitel; one wonders why he chose to appear in this part. The family is getting together for the kid’s fifth birthday party but after Jack (Robert DeNiro) suffers a heart attack he begins to wonder who can be the new successor to lead the family (which leads to more usual investigations).

Greg (Ben Stiller) is working his way up in the medical field as best he can as a registered nurse and is approached by a drug company representative to help promote a new drug. The rep is a sultry Jessica Alba who plays a girl named Andi Garcia (complete with references to the real actor with same name). Owen Wilson reprises his role as Kevin and comes back after recently having with Deepak Chopra being dumped by a foreign flame. In addition, Barbara Streisand is back as Roz and Dustin Hoffman is back as Bernie, who is in Spain studying up on his dance moves (yeah, pretty lame).

The motives that drive the story are a bit of a stretch and constantly feel forced. The situational comedy of the first two flowed much more naturally than in this film. All of the likeable characters from the first two installments are back, but when there is only a weak story to tell it makes you wonder why they pushed this film through. Not only does this latest Focker film feel forced, it also feels rushed. There are enough funny characters in this franchise to create a humorous story; unfortunately the good laughs are few and far between.

It shouldn’t be surprising that this film lacks any appeal present in the other two films. Director Paul Weitz, who helmed last year’s awful Cirque du Freak, hasn’t made a funny film since American Pie. It is often that by the third installment of a franchise that the film is fairly weak, especially when the director of the first two doesn’t return in the same position (red flag number one). Jay Roach, who directed both Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, only came back as producing credit. I feel if he would have helmed the director’s chair this film would have been better.

It isn’t until towards the end of the film that we get the style of bantering between Greg and Jack that made the first two films fun. The scene during the final credits (I won’t spoil it for those who want to see the film) would have been great if extended and put into the main part of the film when it actually took place. The addition of Andi as well other small appearances just don’t feel necessary. With a little bit more time, this film could have been better than many would expect. Instead, we get exactly what you feel after watching the trailer and rolling your eyes.

When you think of good trilogies what comes to mind? Maybe the Alien trilogy, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Beverly Hills Cop. Sure, both Alien and Indiana Jones had a fourth film that wasn’t so great, but they had three films that are each worth viewing if one is a big enough fan of the others. I can’t say that with Little Fockers, it just doesn’t add much to the story or give us anything new that should draw us back. Since Hollywood has obliviously skipped Christmas, it may be a good time to stay in the warm house and enjoy some of your favorite holiday films on DVD. These Fockers just aren’t worth your time.

Chris Yogerst

Chris is an associate lecturer at the University of Wisconsin Colleges and is a PhD film student at Regent University. He is also editor and a film critic for Parcbench. His articles are linked on numerous sites around the web. Follow him at twitter.com/chrisyogerst

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