In Little Fockers, we once again look in on the Fockers and the Byrnes as they come together to celebrate the birthday of the family's newest additions, twins Samantha and Henry, the "little Fockers" that the title refers to. Oddly enough, we see shockingly little of the titular children, as the third movie in the franchise decides instead to reignite the tired feud between Ben Stiller's Gaylord "Greg" Focker and Robert De Niro's Jack Byrnes.
The title is a bit of cheat, really. First we met the Byrnes, then we met the Fockers, and now focusing on the kids seems like the natural evolution of the story. And yet this installment doesn't do that at all, instead treading over well-worn ground. When Jack (De Niro) has a heart attack, he contemplates his mortality and tells Greg (Stiller) that he has to take over the patriarchal duties and become "The Godfocker." This puts a lot on Greg's shoulders, giving Jack another reason to put him through the ringer, shamelessly emulating the premise of Meet the Parents. As much as I hate to say it, "The Godfocker" really should've been the title of the movie. It would've made plenty of people shudder, but it also would've made a hell of a lot more sense.
The large majority of the jokes fall flat, and some are offensively bad. There's a scene in which an attractive drug rep named Andi (Jessica Alba) helps Greg insert a tube in a patient's anus. The scene isn't hilarious, but I did laugh as Andi and Greg share an awkwardly romantic moment while a nurse (Kevin Hart) watches in disgust. After the tube is in, Andi asks if everything is ok. Greg, not realizing that the question is directed at the patient, answers that it is.
That's the end of the joke, the punchline. But after a brief lull, we cut to a close up of a soap dispenser shooting out a stream of soap. Not only do they shoehorn in a cliché ejaculation joke, but even if it weren't completely stale, it's too delayed to be funny. It's almost as if they threw it in out of obligation, like they were forced against their will to cap the scene with a climax joke, so they lazily tossed it in at the end.
And while that may be the prime example of what's wrong with Little Fockers, it's definitely a problem that plagues the entire movie. This territory is too familiar and they're simply going through the motions, making the obvious jokes in the obvious places. The one thing the movie has going for it is a strong cast, and you can't throw talented guys like Stiller and De Niro without getting a few laughs, but they're all cheap jokes. They're guaranteed laughs that have been tested and approved, Comedy 101.
Little Fockers is a sequel that shouldn't have been made. It's not the worst movie I've seen all year, but it's such an obvious cash-grab that it's offensive. It's one thing to attempt to make a good movie and fail, but it really feels like they didn't try at all.
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