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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Meet the Parents (2000)

Dina: I had no idea you could milk a cat.
Greg: Yeah, you can milk anything with nipples.
Jack: I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?

- Blythe Danner, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: December 21, 2004

Stars: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo
Other Stars: James Rebhorn, Jon Abrahams, Owen Wilson
Director: Jay Roach

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug references and language
Run Time: 01h:47m:36s
Release Date: December 14, 2004
UPC: 025192545924
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B+A- B-

DVD Review

Anybody who has ever brought home that special someone knows the terror that can be inflicted by the family, and when it's time to return the favor, having all eyes on you can be excruciating, even if your inamorata's family are the nicest people in the world. (As, of course, my own in-laws are.) So there's instant empathy for Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents, and the poor guy gets put through the ringer, principally at the hand of his girlfriend's father—Robert De Niro is not generally known as one of the great comic actors, but he and Stiller make a hilarious pairing in this very funny movie.

Looking back on De Niro's career, you'd be forgiven if you reached the tentative conclusion that he's not much of a comedian. After his laff riot performances as Travis Bickle and young Vito Corleone and Jake La Motta, he tried lightening it up before in painfully unfunny movies like We're No Angels; even something like Analyze This is kind of a riff on his many performances in gangster pictures. But here it's Bob De Niro, suburban patriarch, and he's not only convincing (no surprise), he's archly funny, and a great foil for Stiller. Ever since his eponymous Fox TV show, Stiller seems to seek out roles that will make him and his audience squirm; comedy generally is a whole lot more mean that tragedy (it's funny because this stuff isn't happening to us), and Stiller milks the laughs out of every available opportunity, even if he's not milking kittens. (See the quote at the top of this review.)

It's a straightforward, classic set-up: Stiller plays the rather unfortunately surnamed Greg Focker, a male nurse, who wants to propose to his girlfriend, Pam (Teri Polo). But before he can get the words out, Greg learns that the proper thing to do in Pam's family is to ask her father for her hand; Pam's sister is about to get married, and hence Pam and Greg will travel from Chicago to New York for the wedding, and to allow Greg to fulfill the premise of the movie's title.

Of course, things go catastrophically wrong. Greg is a victim of circumstance compounded by some bad choices, and he's an instant Byrnes family pariah. The movie is loaded up with obstacles for Greg to overcome: his name, his profession, and most important, the wrath of his prospective father-in-law. Stiller and De Niro are well supported by a bunch of pros: Blythe Danner is warm and spirited as De Niro's wife, though much of her performance is about throwing focus; Polo humanizes Pam, who might otherwise be just a chit the boys fight over; and especially wry and funny is Owen Wilson as an ex-boyfriend of Pam's, who has made a killing in the market, lives in a crazily big McMansion, and remembers a little too fondly the physical aspects of his relationship with Greg's girlfriend. The first third of the movie is as laugh-out-loud funny as any Hollywood picture in the last decade, and though things get a little off the rails in the final reels—the necessity to tie up the story brings with it some improbable plot developments—it never really drags or wavers, and it's full of comic set bits and punch lines throughout that stand up to repeated viewings.

Jay Roach made this his first high-profile project after directing the first two Austin Powers movies, and here, even with De Niro, he gets to be the big dog, as his leading man is not also his screenwriter. He's made a very funny movie, and you'll be glad when it's over that soon it will be time to meet the Fockers. 

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The movie is light on close-ups, allowing the situational comedy to play out in real time; just the expressions on De Niro's and Stiller's faces as they drive in silence is enough for some laughs, and some artful camera work (going handheld when Greg feels under particular siege) serves the story well. The transfer is solid, with a warm palette and little interference.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Spanish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: A well-balanced mix on both the Dolby 5.1 and DTS tracks, though I'm partial to the former, for better dispersal and a warmer sound.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Wimbledon, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, Thunderbirds, Friday Night Lights
3 Deleted Scenes
5 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This Bonus Edition of the movie supersedes the previous DVD release; there isn't a whole lot to distinguish between them, and this one is clearly being released to coincide with the theatrical run of Meet the Fockers. (The over/under on the Barbra Streisand/Mother Focker jokes has got to be running very, very high.) Anyway, this disc tries to forge some new ground with corporate sponsorship, as the main menu tells us: "Bonus Materials Brought To You By Earthlink." Roach and his editor, Jon Poll, sit for a warm, informative commentary track, covering the usual bases: details of the shoot, history of the project, that sort of stuff. Roach talks about being rightly terrified by the prospect of giving direction to Robert De Niro, but it sounds like a good time was had by all. A pair of deleted scenes (03m:21s) are included, and they wouldn't have contributed much to the final cut; Roach and Poll's commentary track extends to these, too, with the director taking solace in the opportunity to show these scenes on DVD, and the editor telling us not to watch, because they were cut for a reason. Another deleted scene (01m:34s), jokily called De Niro Unplugged, shows us the actor crooning Love is in the Air; karaoke night at the De Niros must be a painful matter.

Also here are a set of outtakes (11m:14s), many of which feature De Niro and Mr. Jinx, a Himalayan and a pal of Intrigo's; and All-New Outtakes (06m:11s), for which presumably we have Earthlink to thank. (If you need still more of the actors going up on their lines, there's a weblink to a few more.) The Truth About Lying (06m:42s) features a polygraph expert, commenting on Jack's technique and the history of the machine; Silly Cat Tricks (05m:33s) shines the spotlight on Mr. Jinx's trainer. Jay Roach: A Director's Profile (01m:16s), is a silly, overcut music video; DVD credits round out the package.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

A solid, consistently funny studio comedy with stellar comic performances from De Niro and Stiller. This disc doesn't improve significantly on the previous DVD release, but even if it's a run-up to the theatrical release of the film's sequel, and even if you've seen the movie before, you'll still laugh plenty when poor Gaylord Focker comes home to meet the parents.


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