Film Review: Little Fockers

The third instalment of the Meet the Parents franchise, Little Fockers is mildly amusing at times but fails to offer anything new. Hopefully this will be the final film in the series, despite the decent box office returns thus far.

As the fifth birthday of his twins approaches, Greg decides to moonlight for a drugs company in order to pay the bills. Greg is getting on well with his father-in-law Jack, who asks Greg to be the new head of the family. Chaos ensues, however, when Jack begins to have suspicions about Greg’s work…

Little Fockers is incredibly formulaic, rehashing the same ideas and narrative devices from the first two films. There appears to be no evolution in the relationship between Greg and Jack, as the same old dynamics come into play yet again. Characters from the first two films fulfil the same roles, never straying into new territory. Furthermore, there appears to be a rather gaping plot hole for anyone who has seen the first film. In Little Fockers Jack wants Greg to take over as head of the family. It is never mentioned that Jack has a son of his own, or why he would prefer Greg in this role rather than his own son. The omission of Jack and Dina’s son could have been referred to in the rather forgettable second instalment Meet the Fockers, but this oversight nevertheless indicates lazy writing.

Little Fockers employs the same style of humour as the first two films. Innuendo is mixed together with slapstick and crude jokes. While Meet the Parents had some great physical comedy, the set-ups in Little Fockers are mildly amusing at best, rather than hilarious.

Little Fockers features many of the same characters from the first two films. These characters fall into the same patterns as the last film; there is no sense of development. Equally, none of the actors are stretched in Little Fockers. Robert De Niro phones in his performance; it is rather sad to see him parodying a role that brought him great acclaim with the ‘GodFocker’ nonsense. Owen Wilson’s Kevin was one of the funniest characters in Meet the Parents, but a poor script lets down an enthusiastic performance in this episode.

Little Fockers introduces a few new minor characters. Paul Weitz’s film has a stellar cast featuring De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Harvey Keitel. Yet Keitel and Laura Dern are underused, while Jessica Alba is at times awful as drug rep Andi.

Little Fockers is a rather tired and unimaginative movie. The promise of the all-star cast is ultimately let down by a lacklustre script that does not deliver.

Film Review: Dinner for Schmucks

What do you get when you cross Jay Roach, the director of Meet the Parents, with actors Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis? Dinner for Schmucks, a comedy that is only sporadically funny, and ultimately disappoints.

In order to achieve a big promotion at work, Tim needs to find an idiot to bring to his boss’ dinner party. After bumping into an unusual guy called Barry, Tim thinks he has found the perfect guest, little realising the impact Barry will have on his life…

Like many others, Dinner for Schmucks is a film that attempts to straddle humour with a more heartfelt narrative. Thanks to the performances of Rudd and Carell, the emotion seems genuine, yet the comedy is lacking in comparison. Surprising, considering the talent involved in the film. Whilst there are some laughs to be had, the film does not live up to expectations. The climactic scene, in particular, should have been much more humorous than it is.

As Barry, Carell is amusing, and elicits sympathy in the film’s more serious moments. However, some of the humour from this character falls flat, and he occasionally comes across as annoying. The most humorous characters in the film are Therman (played by Galifianakis) and artist Kieran (Jermaine Clement). Therman is comical in how serious he takes himself, whilst Kieran is often hilarious as the larger-than-life artist interested in Tim’s girlfriend. In a minor role, David Walliams is not as amusing as perhaps the filmmakers intended.

The film’s title sequence depicts the mice artworks (Barry’s hobby) being assembled with pain-staking detail. Accompanied by Theodore Shapiro’s lovely score, this introduction gives the impression of an offbeat, quirky little movie. The marketing for Dinner for Schmucks would suggest a raucous comedy. The end result in fact is neither of these; it is a comedy that fails to be consistently funny.

Furthermore, the message of the film conflicts too overtly with the aim. Whilst on the one hand the audience is supposed to laugh at the peculiarities of Barry, on the other we are told that it is wrong to make fun of people who are a bit different. Had Dinner for Schmucks decided to plump for just one of these opinions (either that it is fine to laugh at others, or that it is wrong), it may have been a better film.

Ultimately, however, Dinner for Schmucks showcases a range of comedic talent let down by a lacklustre script.