I wasn’t expecting much from Meet the Fockers, a sequel to 2000’s pretty successful comedy Meet the Parents in which jokes about bad last names are made. While I like watching Ben Stiller suffer, I’ve seen him humiliated so much, it’s begun to give me tired head. But Meet the Fockers is a pleasant surprise. It carries on a lot of the same gags from the first film, but freshens things up by make the jokes about more than how many ways there are to sizzle Stiller’s Gaylord Focker.
At first things are going uncharacteristically well for Gay. He, along with fiancée Pam (Teri Polo) are headed to the home of her parents the Burns, where they will take a flight to Miami for a pre-wedding meeting between the two families. On their way to the airport a stranger offers to give Gay and Pam his cab. All the lights turn green for them and a ticket screw up lands them in first class where the evil stewardess from the previous film treats our Focker like royalty. After a bit of jostling in which Pam’s father convinces them all to take his massive, tank-like RV to Miami instead of a plane, we’re introduced to Gay’s parents the Fockers, who in an unexpectedly inspired bit of casting are played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand. The film quickly returns to familiarly uncomfortable territory, as the two families’ different ideologies clash and Stiller tells ridiculous lies to cover up for his own parents’ oddities.
Aside from a few moments of embarrassing humiliation at the hands of Jack Burns, Stiller comfortably takes a side seat as more of a reaction man while Gay and Pam’s parents handle most of the comedic heavy lifting. For instance, his mother is a sex therapist who likes talking openly to the Burns about her family’s sexual history. Doing so is prone to make Stiller fall backwards out of his chair. His constant state of paranoia is for the most part justified, his attempts to hide his family’s oddities understandable in the face of his father-in-law’s manic, judgmental, over-protectivity.