Meet the Parents

Meet the Parents is definitely one of the funniest films out this year. A lot the humour is in the style seen in comedies like Austin Powers or There's Something about Mary, with the exception that a lot of it is non-sexual in nature.

Gay "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) wants to marry Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo). He accompanies Pam to meet her parents', Jack (Robert DeNiro) and Dina (Blythe Danner), during her sister's wedding. His goal: asking Jack for Pam's hand in marriage. In trying to make a good impression, Greg manages to invoke Murphy's law in anything he attempts, leading to one disastrous (and hilarious) scenario after another.

What I found interesting (and if I took movies more seriously I might even be frustrated) is that Greg is ultimately responsible for his own predicament. Sure, he's desperate in his attempt to impress Jack, but his cover-up attempts only serve to dig him deeper into his hole. This movie illustrates the perils of telling white lies---almost anyone who's done this knows what happens when you start getting called on them. Instead of backing off, most people end up compounding the lie. Then again, if Greg were a bit more "street smart", this movie wouldn't have been as funny.

Some of the more classic scenes (and there are a lot more than the ones I'm listing here) involve the dinner where Greg describes the milking of a cat, the burning of wood-sculpted altar for the wedding, the drag race between Jack and Greg, and the final few seconds before the end of the film with Greg going "can you handle this?"

Ben Stiller is a superb comedian and plays the job of the earnest suitor extremely well. Robert DeNiro's affectations are hilarious, though just a wee-bit over the top at times. The supporting roles by Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, and Owen Wilson as Pam's ex-fiance, are pretty solid. In particular, Danner does the best she can to shine with her vacuous character in a situation where she has to severely compete for screen time.

Meet the Parents takes a side trip with its commentary on how airlines operate today. The scenes where Greg interacts with a airline stewardess (Kali Rocha), culminating in him losing it completely (courtesy of all the pressure he has faced living under Jack's watchful eyes), are simply marvelous. Not only are they funny, but they also point out the absurdity in how airline automatons work.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||