Little Fockers Review

Little Fockers has a legacy deeply rooted in modern TV sitcoms. There’s the mistaken gay couple act, in this case Greg (Ben Stiller) and Jack (Robert De Niro) visiting a potential school for Greg’s twins. As the school head approaches them, she believes they’re a gay couple. Hardy har har.

We have the ball pit brawl, where tensions are strained to the point that adults uproariously enter into a play yard to settle their differences. There’s even a slide! There’s a howler. Earlier, you would have been subjected to the comedy favorite revolving around erection drugs, Greg forced to, uh, “deflate” the “incident” in the most awkward manner possible.

Oh, never fear as Little Fockers still has more. How about the always popular mistaken affair, where a flood of contrived timing means Greg could be cheating on his wife with the hot drug rep Andi (Jessica Alba), Jack always there to spy in at the worst possible moment. Of course he wouldn’t look through the window as he’s pushing her away as it’s far more convenient (and lazier) to have him look through the window when she’s straddling him.

Surely this is all for the sake of the plot, a deeply entrenched script rife with references to Focker lore… or not. In actuality, there’s nothing pushing this forward short of the feud between Jack and Greg, the same thing we’ve sat through twice already. In a way, this might as well be the first movie all over again, although without the air of wonderful awkwardness Meet the Parents had going for it.

Besides, everyone with a shred of film knowledge (or ironically TV sitcom knowledge) knows that adding kids is the last act of a desperate screenwriter, and here, they don’t even matter. They get into the way, make cute faces, have their own contrived timing, and add zippo to the actual narrative. They’re boring, the movie is boring, Jessica Alba is grating, this series is over, and please don’t kick start a fourth movie because all they’ve set up is an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” We’ve done the sitcom level stuff, thanks.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Universal’s VC-1 effort for Little Fockers gets off to a rough start, Greg moving through the hospital with a mountain of noisy, unresolved grain behind him. It’s overbearing for about 10 minutes, and then finally settles down to the point where you don’t even notice it. The end result is a crisp, routinely sharp, and natural image representative of a modern film stock in digital form.

Close-ups produce extravagant detail, a few focal shots notwithstanding. Stiller, De Niro, and Dustin Hoffman’s minimal role kick start this one in grand scale, resolving pores, sweat, and aging wrinkles without fault. Environments, aside from the weirdly soft panoramas of Chicago, are superior too. Kevin’s (Owen Wilson) luxurious time share is rife with trees, tall grass, and beautifully defined brick architecture.

Colors veer warmly, because that’s what comedies do these days. The means flesh tones take on that bronze tinge, ghastly in all regards. Other primaries deliver though, the film’s finale taking place in a ridiculously lavish birthday party, the ball pit overloaded with color. Primaries rarely get a chance to leap off the screen like that. Kevin also dons a gaudy turquoise outfit for a stage show, also coming through with amazing saturation.

Depth is firm, replicated at home by adequate if not overwhelming black levels. Nighttime spy runs by Jack are competent and pleasing without appearing murky, which is about all you can ask for. Contrast never appears overly hot, even with some specific light sources being blasted at the characters. All around pleasing except for those flesh tones. Can we please stop with that junk now?

Video ★★★★☆ 

Dialogue becomes prominent for any general comedy, obviously the focal point for this DTS-HD mixture. It’s modern audio design at its most anemic, rarely having to push much of anything out of the center. Chatter is firm within its appropriate, locked down home, balanced with a minimal layer of other elements.

Some sequences require a bit of a push, say the school presentation at 30:52 or the birthday party late. There are plenty of screaming kids to go around. There’s a nice bit of sound design on the elevated train too, characters moving in and out, the rattle placed in the surrounds as to not interfere. Adequate for what this one requires.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Ten minutes of deleted scenes do not include the alternate opening and ending within their ranks (those are both separate options), more or less to annoy the handful of people who care about that menu-driven nonsense. An extended gag reel generates some laughs, while Making of a Godfocker is a banal exercise in studio promotion disguising as a making-of. Bob & Ben and Ben & Owen sit down with the actors as they discuss their roles, how they came about, and of course how great the experiences were.

Bout Time looks at the fight scene choreography, while The Focker Foot Locker is a montage of every utterance of “Focker” throughout the entire series. You can truly appreciate the hefty DNR of the first movie and outrageous sharpening of the second with the swapping. You may also stream Sgt. Bilko or Junior via BD-Live as a bonus.

Movie ★★☆☆☆