Having met his fiancee's parents in Meet the Parents, the perenially unlucky Greg Focker introduces her family to his parents. How will ex-CIA man Jack Byrnes (De Niro) cope with the bumbling Mr Focker and his sex therapist wife?
They say you can't choose your family, but Jay Roach has done a superb job in picking his familias horribilis for this follow up to 2000's surprise smash, Meet The Parents. With De Niro already in place as the surly, paranoid father-of-fiancee, the mix is enriched with the dream team of Hoffman and Streisand as Greg's all-too-easygoing mom 'n' pop. Laden with Oscars, its hard to imagine a more able team. So it's an immense shame that their collective talents are squandered on what amounts to a disappointing retread.
Despite that little teasing comment from De Niro about meeting Greg's folks, Meet The Parents didn't particularly call out for a sequel, finishing with family tensions resolved. So in order to build any kind of momentum for a follow up, the screenwriters have to pick apart the conclusion of Parents, so that De Niro and Stiller end up at odds once again, this time with De Niro suspecting Greg of hiding a secret past. But whereas in the first, comedy was derived from Stiller being the lone voice of reason in a surreal household, this pitches De Niro as the fish out of water. It's a concept which fails to illicit laughs, given that his character is an unlikeable self-important bigot who only works when torturing others, rather than being subjected to it himself.
With its broad concept, Fockers lives or dies by its set-pieces and disappointingly there's nothing in this to rival anything from its older sibling. Ripe comedy situations are raised in the script - Streisand's sex therapy classes for seniors, Hoffman and De Niro's opposing politics, a party with the extended Focker family - yet none is exploited to its full potential. The party, particularly, could have been an excuse for knowing cameos from a few members of the Stiller Frat Pack, but instead a couple of the Focker family are merely namechecked in an embarrassingly lame gag.
A few laughs are salvaged due to the sheer quality of the talent present. Hoffman enlivens his role by playing it as a cheeky schoolboy trapped in an elderly man's body, while Streisand keeps her potential caricature on the right side of bawdy, happy not to steal the limelight. It's Stiller and De Niro who sadly come off worst, doing their best with half-hearted gags yet being upstaged by a foul-mouthed baby...
Fans of the first will find some amusement in familiarity, but with such a comically able cast this is a missed opportunity.