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Meet The Fockers

All that really needs to be said of Meet The Fockers is that each of the following things figure prominently in it: a precocious infant swearing and lusting after a housekeeper's massive fake bosom, a crusty old foreskin falling into a fondue set, Robert De Niro wearing a fake breast, Barbra Streisand with whipped cream all over her cleavage, a rambunctious sex class for seniors, graphic talk of Dustin Hoffman's one testicle and Ben Stiller's bris, and a cat flushing a horny dog down a toilet. Needless to say, the film's illustrious, Academy Award-winning cast is a long way from Taxi Driver, The Graduate, Funny Girl, or even Meet The Parents. Meet The Fockers has assembled a historic, once-in-a-lifetime cast, then stranded them in the laziest, most mercenary kind of sequel imaginable. It's like the 1927 Yankees taking on the Special Olympics softball team.

Solidifying his status as the overworked, overexposed, and maddeningly ubiquitous Jude Law of comedy, Ben Stiller returns for more social and sexual humiliation as a male nurse who still hasn't married longtime fiancée Teri Polo or introduced her uptight parents to his laid-back, hippie-dippy immediate family. It's retro vs. metro, red states vs. blue, and snobs vs. slobs as De Niro's control-freak ex-CIA agent clashes culturally with Hoffman's wildly uninhibited ex-lawyer and Streisand's sex therapist. In whipping up this mess, director Jay Roach has borrowed the strategy of his Austin Powers sequels: shamelessly recycle everything people remember from the first film, crank up the gross-out factor and smug self-satisfaction, and hope all the mercenary whoring doesn't turn potential viewers off so much that they refuse to shell out their hard-earned money.

Stiller's neurotic, put-upon loser shtick was familiar the first time around. This time out, his slapstick pratfalls and "comic" embarrassments are as much a deadening comedy cliché as the catchphrases Mike Myers brays more gratingly in the Powers sequels. Throughout the film, De Niro wears a look of palpable disgust, as if it physically pains him just to be in the proximity of such desperate wackiness. His character is too much the psychotic prig to inspire much empathy otherwise, but at least it's easy to relate to that part of the performance.

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