Little Fockers

Photo: allmoviephoto.com
(Oh, fock off.)

Starring Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Laura Dern and Jessica Alba. Directed by Paul Weitz. 98 minutes. PG

It's been years since the last (and probably the best) round of Gaylord, er, Greg Focker and Jack 's Byrnes semi-funny feud attempted to hammer away at our funny bone with their son-in-law-meets-overprotective-former-FBI-agent-dad hijinks. But apparently some us are still gasping for more PG guffaws. I mean, what other reason would there be to reunite their repeat portrayers - Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro - for another sequel?

It's clear to see Little Fockers is nothing more than a holiday movie season money grab. The completely useless sequel isn't particularly funny and lacks a real focus, unless you count the numerous shots of Jessica Alba's butt-hugging shifts.

The title and millions of previews that invaded cineplexes over the past year suggested that it we would get to see the newest members of the Focker-Byrnes brood embark on their own slapstick nonsense. And while that's definitely here - there's a whole plot about trying to get them into The Human School, a pretentious teaching establishment that favors limited rules and individual learning - it really just reworks the same scenarios we've seen twice over. Just in a new household.

Director Paul Weitz (About a Boy, American Pie) tries to trick us into thinking Greg and Jack have gotten over their issues with each other by kicking of the comedy with a somewhat sentimental side story. After Jack has a secret heart attack (he revives himself with the help of the wires in his lie detector), he has a heart-to-heart with Greg, asking him to prepare to take his place as the head of the family. Or as he so awkwardly puts it, become "The Godfocker." But of course this partnership doesn't last for long as Jack begins to suspect that Greg is cheating on his daughter (Teri Polo) with his new business partner, Andi (Alba). It doesn't help that Andi's business is erectile dysfunction drugs.

Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro clearly have a blast working together again, hamming it up with their over-the-top verbal and verbal bashing. But there's little chance you'll feel the same. The real laughs are few and far between. Either you've heard them before - either in the previous films, the relentless trailers or even, other comedies - or they're just predictable. Like when the director of the school (Laura Dern) assumes Greg and Jack aren't son and father-in-law, but rather, May-December gay dads. Yeah, it's as lame and sitcom-y as it sounds.

Even lamer is the fact that the funniest part of this not-so-funny flick is the scene that rolls over the credits, which has Stiller retelling the events of the previous movies, with a YouTube generation twist. But to be honest, the real fock up in Little Fockers is the fact that there's not nearly enough Barbra Streisand or Dustin Hoffman for anyone's liking.

The duo, who play Greg's overtly free-spirited parents and made Meet the Fockers a well-deserved, legitimately slaphappy hit, have minimal screen time. Apparently, Hoffman didn't even want to be in the flick, citing the poor script and change of directors (the first two were directed by Jay Roach of Austin Powers fame, who was too busy working on Dinner for Schmucks to do anything other than produce this time around) And really, after watching him squirm through another awkward Latin dance routine, who can blame him? C-

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