Who are these Fockers? | VailDaily.com

Who are these Fockers?

Shauna Farnell
Special to the Daily'Meet the Fockers' is in theaters now.

There’s something both incredulous and strangely convincing about the Fockers. With a name like that to go on, especially having seen the first film, people should know what kind of humor they’re getting themselves into …In spite of myself, during “Meet the Fockers,” (directed by Jay Roach of “Austin Powers” fame), I laughed. A lot. I went into it thinking perhaps the silly toilet jokes and Focker (sounds-like …) humor had probably run its course in the first film, but I couldn’t help it. I laughed. And I wasn’t alone.

I found “Meet the Parents” almost painful to watch. I about had to put my hand over my eyes for almost every well-intended catastrophe performed by Gaylord Focker (Ben Stiller), as he nearly killed a cat, destroyed a house and committed about every blunder in the universe save actually setting his soon-to-be in-laws on fire in the process of trying to make a good impression on them. Focker and Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) are engaged. But they’ve come from two very different sides of the street. Either I was conditioned enough from these episodes, or the catastrophes just weren’t as catastrophic in “Meet the Fockers,” or maybe the slips from grace were shared among the family, but the sequel, where the Fockers meet the Byrnes, was much easier for me to watch.I might have been so entertained by the film due to the sheer irony of seeing highly respectable actors such as Robert De Niro, Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman throw all of their drama-acclaimed skills to the wind and play their respective roles as silly parents. De Niro, as some might remember, is Jack Byrnes, the super-strict, ex-CIA member, soon-to-be father-in-law. Hoffman is Bernie Focker, the happy-go-lucky, stay-at-home dad/ex-lawyer who, upon the first hand shake, incorporates a lengthy anecdote about the one-testicled conception of Gaylord into his introduction. Then, there’s a big kiss on the cheek, one for squirming, frowning Jack and one for Dina Byrnes (Blythe Danner). Streisand, who, in many ways, steals the show, is Roz Focker, a sex therapist who decorates her home with ethnic statues of wooden men with gigantic penises and conducts yoga-style classes involving compromising positions for a group of local senior citizens. Needless to say, all three sport their characters like second nature.

Bernie, who has proudly built a shrine out of his son’s stuffed lamb toys and ninth-place ribbons, can’t understand why Jack is so competitive. Jack, on the other hand, having swallowed a full dose of distaste for the Fockers immediately, begins compiling a top-secret case against his clearly unsuitable soon-to-be extended family: Operation: Stop this Marriage.The covertness of his operation falls off the deep end of ridiculousness when he unveils his Batmobile-style control base hidden inside of his space-age RV, which transported the Byrnes to the Isle of Focker.As the Fockers unabashedly share with the Byrnes tales of their son’s virginity loss, ill-fated circumcision, and perpetually allude to their own wild diet of intimacy, Jack wants to hammer home to everybody that his style of parenting, not to mention all the rest of his viewpoints and approaches, are insurmountable. He’s helping raise Pam’s sister’s boy – Little Jack – by teaching him to communicate in sign language and “self-soothe” when he’s crying. I was left pondering how many weeks it must have taken film crews to persuade Little Jack to say baby’s first word in “Meet the Fockers,” taught to him by none other than his soon-to-be blundering uncle.

As silly as this film is, the acting is incredible, and it might help you appreciate your own parents and their own, personal, how shall we say … quirks.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado

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