BLOGS

Little Fockers: Sex, Lies and the Creeping Shadow of Death

Full disclosure: I hate lies. Specifically, I hate movies based on lies, where all of the action is based on a lie or secret or misunderstanding which must then be covered up for the remainder of the movie, usually by more lying. This includes a lot of Ben Stiller movies, and most definitely the Meet the Parents franchise, where approximately 90% of all the spoken dialogue is a lie. Granted, if they told the truth, the movie would pretty much end, so I understand why they do it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. The third film, Little Fockers, is as dishonest as the others, but with recurring theme of marital infidelity that gives the formulaic farce a dark center.

The movie starts off with Greg Focker (Stiller) still married to Pam (Teri Polo) with twin children, an aggressive girl who seems to be a little Grandpa Jack (Robert De Niro) and a dopey boy who may be developmentally challenged, which is actually hinted at through testing in a later scene. Greg's got a contractor (Harvey Keitel) renovating a house for the family, and even though his job is now Head of Medical Services at a major Chicago hospital, he's apparently making less money, which means he's tempted by a drug rep (Jessica Alba) to give a paid endorsement of a new erectile dysfunction drug at an upcoming conference. The fact that she's hot and bubbly doesn't hurt her case, and Greg immediately downplays her looks to Pam. I guess that's not a bad idea, but he also decides to hide this side gig from Jack, who's coming to visit for the twins' birthday. True, Jack is currently having actual heart palpitations over his other daughter's separation from her cheating doctor husband, but he also wants Greg to get his financial house in order to take over the paterfamilias role, so you'd think additional sources of income would be a plus. Regardless, you know there will be hilarious misunderstandings, which are less than hilarious for Jack, who is actually whipped into such a frenzy that it results in a lengthy brawl with Greg through the twins' party.

Pam's wealthy ex-fiance Kevin (Owen Wilson) has a big role in this one, and starts off seeking proposal advice from Greg, which of course backfires; he then shifts his focus to Pam, the one who got away, and threatens to replace Greg in his own family. The Focker parents are mostly absent until the party, with Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) in Spain learning to flamenco dance and Roz (Barbra Streisand) taping her sex show, which is too bad, since the two of them are open books, incapable of lying. Pam's mom Dina (Blythe Danner) is oblivious to Jack's severe heart problems, and also apparently oblivious to how inappropriate it is to role-play as a cheating spouse with the fidelity-obsessed Jack, especially while staying in someone else's house. We never get to visit with Pam's cuckolded sister -- that would be too depressing, right? -- but Greg runs into Bob at a medical conference and realizes that all of Jack's "Godfocker" hopes for Greg have been transferred directly from the blacklisted Bob.

Having the lies be about cheating and death instead of a missing cat or an unplanned pregnancy, as in the first two movies, make the movie a much darker affair, no pun intended. Even Greg's "innocent" interactions with drug rep Andi Garcia are highly inappropriate, so it's sad to see him being such a crummy husband. With Jack basically on the brink of death, I kept expecting the movie to take a morbid turn, and practically cackled with glee when he and Greg started whaling on each other in the final act. But it ends as fluffily as it began, with the promise (threat?) of another sequel. I'm not going to say I didn't laugh at this one -- I did, although it was mostly thanks to the added-at-the-last-minute Dustin Hoffman -- but I did a lot more cringing and covering my eyes, waiting for the awkwardness to go away. Eventually, I realized that it wasn't going to. Ever.

Did you see Little Fockers? Let us know what you thought below, then check out our guide to the upcoming comedy movies of 2011! And read reviews of True Grit, Gulliver's Travels, Somewhere and more right here!

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