Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2004. Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Tribeca Productions, Everyman Pictures. Story and Screenplay by Jim Herzfeld, Marc Hyman, based on characters created by Greg Glienna, Mary Ruth Clarke. Cinematography by John Schwartzman. Produced by Robert De Niro, Jay Roach, Jane Rosenthal. Music by Randy Newman. Production Design by Rusty Smith. Costume Design by Carol Ramsey. Film Editing by Alan Baumgarten, Lee Haxall, Jon Poll.
Now that we’ve gotten to know Ben Stiller’s in-laws from Meet The Parents, it’s time to get to know his family. Just prior to his wedding to Teri Polo, Stiller invites her parents (Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner) to Florida to meet his (Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand) and hopes to God that they all get along. This is going to be difficult, of course, because De Niro is still up to his old tricks of spying on everyone, and Stiller’s parents are a bit off-colour for this military man’s tastes: Streisand is a free-thinking sex therapist and Hoffman a liberal stay-at-home dad who used to be a social justice lawyer. This is the set-up for a lot of obvious laughs, with Stiller getting into some hairy situations that are telegraphed to the audience miles ahead and then play out liked tired skits from a high school play. These would be tolerable, however, if the script could possibly find a justification for how stupid Stiller’s character is: why is he still trying to impress De Niro’s character when he was supposed to have already won him over last time, and why is he constantly apologizing for his parents who, while not necessarily average, are extremely generous and very welcoming to their new family? There’s a lot of deference being paid to WASPy superiority that will aggravate anyone who bothers to think about it long enough. Thankfully, this one is a more pleasant experience than the first film because both lead characters finally get their comeuppance in the end: Stiller is forced to face the fact that it’s his problem that he’s constantly trying to live up to someone else’s standards, and De Niro is told what an unlikable asshole he is. What the film also has going for it are two fantastic performances by Hoffman and Streisand, who have never been more likeable (particularly Babs, who is looking great and seems to really enjoy having Dustin lick whip cream off her breasts!) and get all the film’s best laughs.