Making the Grades
In Meet the Parents, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) flies to New York to propose to his girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo). The reception he gets from her uptight father Jack (Robert De Niro) is anything but cordial. Maybe that's why it has taken the couple four years to finally get around to introducing his parents to hers.
Unfortunately, this sequel continues in the same vein as the original. Making fun of Greg's profession as a male nurse and using his last name in virtually every way possible to replace the sexual expletive, this film appears doomed from the start for family viewing.
Driving from Chicago to Miami with Jack, Dina (Blythe Danner) and their daughter Pam, Greg's anxieties intensify as they get closer to his parents' home. Living in a seaside cottage, Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Roz Focker (Barbara Streisand) are a relaxed, physically demonstrative couple. During their first family dinner with their company, they openly discuss Greg's past sexual liaisons.
Trying to make a good impression on his future in-laws, Greg has to rein in the topics of conversation as well as keep his passionately involved mom and dad from engaging in full volume sexual activity while they have guests in the house. But things get even worse when Pam lets Greg in on a little secret she's been keeping one she's sure her dad won't delight in hearing.
Along with heavy innuendo based on the family moniker, much of the script's humor relies on overt sexual themes for the punch lines. Working as a seniors' sex therapist, Roz promotes erotic exercise moves and candidly discusses options for an amorously repressed couple. A paternity case, a busload of buxom cheerleaders who start to remove their tops and an incident of mooning are also played for laughs. As well, a toddler learns to swear repeatedly and gets his hands on some hard liquor when a flustered caregiver is distracted by an incoming call. The results are supposed to be funny, but the farce often comes up short in good taste.
While both fathers have a strong sense of family and a desire for their children's happiness, their wildly dissimilar attitudes toward life makes one question Greg and Pam's chances for success even though the two young adults are anxious to marry.
Maneuvering through the dicey maze of pre-nuptial introductions can be challenging at the best of times, but if bringing these two families together is part of the proposal, elopement seems like a much better plan.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Meet the Fockers.
Which approach to parenting in this film do you think is the best? Is your family more rigid or relaxed when it comes to rules?
The script seems to say that sexual relations are the most important thing in marriage. Do you think that would solve all the problems between the couples in this movie? What other aspects of a relationship might be equally significant for success?