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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW
Little Fockers
Chicago's Hatfields And McCoys, Back For Round Three


Robert De Niro as Jack and Ben Stiller as Greg in Paul Weitz's comedy "Little Fockers", which opened across the U.S. today.  
Universal Pictures

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW 
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where are the little ones in this film?  And where, more importantly, are Jessica Alba's clothes?  And why did her character feel the urgent need to leap into a huge, deep ditch in only her undies in the middle of the night?  These and other mystifying questions will never be answered in "Little Fockers", a pointless, meaningless comedy directed by Paul Weitz.  The film opened today across the U.S.

Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) has finally entrusted son-in-law Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) into the hallowed family circle.  He believes Greg would make the perfect patriarch in the event Jack cannot maintain his leadership of the family.  Pressed for cash, Greg gets a job selling Viagra-like pills ("Sustengo") to make some money in this depressed economy, and then all of a sudden, with barely a suspicion (or misunderstanding), Jack has no reason to trust Greg anymore.  Penis envy? 

Much of this wretched film has nothing to do with children, in fact, kids (and adults) would do well to stay away from this messy, incoherent movie, which delivers less than half a dozen laughs and mostly leaves you wondering, "why on earth was that necessary?" 

In this third go around we see everything there is to see between the Byrnes' clan and the Focker family.  Nothing is a surprise, except that the characters are even more shallow this time around.  Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand return as Bernie and Roz Focker, and they are more juvenile than their son Greg.  Mr. Hoffman sweats up a storm flamenco style in Spain, while Ms. Streisand nominally borrows Salt 'N' Pepa's song "Let's Talk About Sex" as a mantra, more or less, for her daytime TV talk show.  And Ms. Streisand talks sex.  (She would have done better to channel the great Barbara Windsor, she of the British "Carry On Laughing" comedy series of 1970s.)

All in all, "Little Fockers" has a chip on its shoulder, and carries a mean-spirited mood around: there's blood, scatological exploration and "Pulp Fiction"-like needle injections into four-hour-plus erections (last seen in such comedies as this year's "Love And Other Drugs" and 2007's "I Think I Love My Wife".)  So what does "Little Fockers" have to do with kids again? 

The film is an exploitive, scattershot affair; there's an episode where Jack and Greg intend to donate to a charity.  (I don't think they do.)  There's the aforementioned appearance of Ms. Alba as Andi Garcia (another unfunny reference).  Owen Wilson (appearing in a second bad film in a five-day stretch) returns as Kevin, who remains interested in Greg's wife Pam (Teri Polo).  Laura Dern joins the cast as a charity executive at a local school, or something or other.  It really doesn't matter.

"Little Fockers" crawls painfully on its own exhaust fumes, which are exhausted.  The ideas are tired.  You suffocate, glazed over at this cruel way to spend 100 minutes of your life.  There's nothing new about this bizarre group of individuals traipsing through suburban Chicago.  You wish writers John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey had given more thought to challenging themselves to construct an engaging and legitimate comedy.  As a cinematic work Mr. Weitz's latest is instantly forgettable.  One can't imagine a third sequel being generated after this specious excuse for comedy.  All of the juice has been squeezed out of this franchise.  All the filmmakers need now is for former boxer Roberto Duran to arise from obscurity to declare, "no mas".

Saddest of all is that so many talented people collaborated on this project.  It would of course, be cynical to say that "Little Fockers" was made by the participants solely for the sake of a big, quick payday, but why else would some of America's best performers reunite for tripe like this?  Jay Roach (who directed the first two films in this series as well as the "Austin Powers" films) produced the new "Fockers", as did Mr. De Niro and his Tribeca Film Festival producing partner Jane Rosenthal.  It's mind-boggling that they produced this.

With: Blythe Danner, Kevin Hart, Thomas McCarthy, Harvey Keitel, Yul Vazquez.

"Little Fockers" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content.  The film's running time is one hour and 38 minutes.


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