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Laramie Movie Scope:
Meet the Parents

A funny movie about the in-laws

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 8, 2000 -- "Meet the Parents" is a very funny movie about a guy, Greg Focker (played by Ben Stiller of "Keeping the Faith"), who has a weekend from hell trying to get along with his exasperating would-be in-laws, their friends and a cat.

Ben Stiller, an excellent comic actor, does some of his best work here, matched up with one of the all-time greats, Robert De Niro. The war of wills between these two oddballs is something to behold. De Niro plays a strange ex-CIA guy, Jack Byrnes, who is given to paranoia and who is highly overprotective of his daughter, Debbie (played by Nicole DeHuff), with whom Focker is in love. Lost luggage, Debbie's pot-smoking brother, a trouble-causing cat, Debbie's old flame and a savage volleyball game are just some of the adventures Focker goes through while meeting the parents.

The story is well-written, but it is the great comic byplay between De Niro and Stiller that really makes this movie sparkle. De Niro, generally known for his great dramatic roles, is also adept at comedy. Using his stern CIA demeanor, he strikes the fear of God into the overwhelmed Focker, and he doesn't mind making fun of Focker's name, either. He belittles and berates Focker until he is reduced to panic. Byrnes is incredibly hard to please because he is at once insensitive to Focker's feelings, while being quick to take offense at any perceived slight.

Focker doesn't help his own cause either, by not standing up for himself and by telling a series of white lies. He also makes a series of mistakes of judgement that eventually lead to disasters. It isn't just the problems relating to the strange Byrnes family that are used in comic setups. There some really good jokes about airline travel, too. Except for one small period of time, when the movie turns from comedy to sappy romance, there is wicked, even cruel, comedy throughout.

The resolution to the accumulation of disasters that befalls Focker isn't very believable and the aforementioned switch from comedy to romance doesn't work well at all, but the comedy setups are very clever. This is one of the funniest films I have seen this year. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2000 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)