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Dear Dad,
Scary Dad

Robert de Niro and Ben Stiller
team up for a comedy
that's screwball at heart

Robert de Niro, Ben Stiller

"Meet the Parents"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.)

It is true of all longterm intimate relationships that you are not only with your partner, are with your partner's family as well (and they with yours). There is nothing more terrifying for a prospective groom than meeting the mom and dad for the first time with them eying you not as a boyfriend but as the husband for their daughter. Believe me, I know -- I've been there.

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I hated this movie, which I found almost completely without redeeming value. There are a couple of laughs.

But its premise is so bad -- Robert De Niro as the weird, creepy father who tortures Ben Stiller as a pathetic dweeb -- that the film's few charms can't overcome its nastiness. It's like watching a kid torture small animals.

-- John Orr

Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) is a male nurse facing this very prospect. He is head-over-heels in love with Pamela Byrnes (Teri Polo) and is intent on marrying her, but wants to do it the right way. Before he asks her, he wants to ask her dad first. And for you guys thinking of asking daddy for her little girl's hand, consider the nightmare it would be if daddy happened to be de Niro. As in Robert. Yup. Someone get the smelling salts please.

Focker does his best to make a good impression, but he is in a household made chaotic by the impending marriage of Pamela's sister (Nicole deHuff), the presence of her medically-snobbish in-laws-to-be (Phyllis George and James Rebhorn) and Pamela's somewhat put-upon mother (Blythe Danner). Things keep going wrong for poor Greg. And then they get worse. By the time things come to a head, your sides will be sore with laughter.

Stiller, on the strength of "Parents" and "There's Something About Mary," has become one of Hollywood's most bankable comedians. His likable boy-next-door style reminds me, oddly enough, of silent star Harold Lloyd, without the physicality. De Niro, who exhibited heretofore unknown comic talents in "Analyze This," continues to lampoon his own image with hilarious results.

Even if you don't like the Farrelly Brothers, whose style "Meet the Parents" most closely resembles, you'll find yourself laughing out loud hysterically at some of the more inspired gags. There's one bit involving a cat and an urn that literally turned the Da Queen and I purple from laughter. It's very thereaputic.

"Meet the Parents" is vulgar in places, but it's screwball at heart. It's one of the funniest movies to come along in quite a while. If life is stressing you out, an evening watching "Meet the Parents" is just the tonic you need.

Theater or Video?
You're going to want to own this one, but you'll want to see this one in a crowded theater first for the shared laughter factor.

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See cast, credit and other details about "Meet the Parents" at Internet Movie Data Base.