Ben Stiller already made us laugh once this year in the hilarious Keeping the Faith with Edward Norton, and now's he's bringing his comic genius to the screen again in Meet the Parents, with some guy named Robert De Niro.
The combination is about as outrageous as it gets, with Ben Stiller being an SNL graduate who relies on his crazy expressions and comic wit, and Robert De Niro, who's probably considered one of the best and serious actors out there (Godfather II anyone?), but it is also hilarious.
Stiller plays a nurse who has traveled to his girlfriend's (Teri Polo) parents' house to get approval to ask for her hand in marriage. He is immediately targeted by his girlfriend's father (De Niro), an ex-CIA Agent who has no trouble in making a fool of Stiller. Just about everything that comes out of Stiller's mouth ends up making him look more idiotic, and everything he does results in some hideous accident that continues to affect his chances of marrying the girl of his dreams.
Meet the Parents is one of the funnier movies of the year, basically because of the chemistry between Stiller and De Niro. De Niro is so hard and serious that it is funny, and Stiller just bounces off him with his crazy antics. On paper I wonder just how funny Meet the Parents is, because a lot of the comedy comes from the physical side of Stiller. At times the movie derives laughs from awkward silence, and Stiller's nervous facial expressions help extremely well.
I'd just like to note that I got a sore throat partway through this movie, so it hurt to laugh. I hurt a lot by the end of the movie.
Sometimes, the jokes seem sort of forced, but for the most part Meet the Parents has original and subtle comedy shaped into the form of in-your-face comedy. The movie does take some pride in some very physical forms of comedy, such as Stiller "blowing up" the wedding alter, flushing septic fluid into the lawn, and giving the bride-to-be a black eye, but most of the jokes rely on De Niro and Stiller. The dialogue is funny but Stiller and De Niro are funnier.
I'd also like to note that Meet the Parents has the funniest portrayal of flight attendants ever.
Meet the Parents is a funny and well done movie. There have been better comedies but this is one of the best of the year, and should not be missed. See it with a big audience and you will absolutely love it.
As the sequel "Meet the Fockers" arrives in theaters, Universal is releasing a new DVD version of "Meet the Parents" (surprise, surprise). The new DVD features a whole slew of outtakes, some of which are funny, some of which are just dull. There are a few deleted scenes, including a funny singing rendition by De Niro. The other features include a rather bland featurette on the lie detector and an interesting look at the training of the cats in the movie. There is also a completely awful "montage" called "Jay Roach: A Director's Profile," and an audio commentary. All in all, the DVD has some pretty good special features, but if you already own the movie, there's no real reason to buy it again.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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