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Meet the Parents

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Meet the Parents

Starring: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller
Director: Jay Roach
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: October 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Spencer Breslin, Phyllis George, Tom Hodges, James Rebhorn, Nicole De Huff

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Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Great humor comes from simple, universal truths, and there are few rites-of-passage as unnerving as meeting your prospective spouse's family. That's the dreaded dilemma facing Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) who realizes that it's important to get her father's permission before he proposes to his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo). A trip from Chicago to New York for her younger sister's wedding seems like the right occasion but things go from bad (lost luggage) to worse when her father Jack (Robert De Niro) turns out to be an eccentric, dogmatic, humorless ex-CIA agent, specializing in psychological profiling, who spent 19 months in a Vietnamese prison camp. "Under my roof, it's my way or the Long Island Expressway," dictates Jack, regarding 21st century sexual mores. Feeling like an outsider about to abscond with their first-born, Greg manages to do everything wrong, as the cat disappears, septic tank overflows, sump pump explodes and wedding altar catches fire. And his discomfort is augmented by Greg's being a male nurse in a houseful of doctors. There's a hilarious scene in which Greg muses about the meaning of "Puff the Magic Dragon," impelling Pam's mother (Blythe Danner) to placate Jack later, noting, "Maybe he uses marijuana for medicinal purposes." Ben Stiller's perfect as the hapless, anxiety-ridden interloper, while Robert De Niro uses his serious, dramatic intensity to be an intimidating adversary - much to the credit of director Jay Roach ("Austin Powers"). Based on a story by Greg Glienna & Mary Ruth Clarke, the wry, deftly frantic screenplay by Jim Herzfeld & John Hamburg evokes multi-generational empathy before running out of steam. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Meet the Parents" is an uproarious, entertaining 8. It's laugh-out-loud funny.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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