It’s a sad commentary on the pathetic state of Hollywood comedies that this lackluster sequel topped the end-of-the box-office, primarily because funny films are so scarce. For the first time since 2001, none of the major, or even minor, studios released a warm, fuzzy holiday-themed picture.
As the Focker family franchise continues into this third installment, frustrated nursing
administrator Gaylord/Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) faces off against his humorless, ex-C.I.A. operative father-in-law, Jack Byrnes (Robert DeNiro), as he and his wife Pam (Teri Solo) prepare to celebrate the fifth birthday of their twins, Henry (Colin Baiocchi) and Samantha (Daisy Tahan). As his sympathetic mother-in-law Dina (Blythe Danner) and bohemian parents Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Roz (Barbra Streisand) travel to join them in Chicago, Greg and Jack battle it out about which male will eventually assume the patriarchal position in the family to become, as Jack says, “The Godfocker.”
Meanwhile, Greg realizes that he has an uber-rich rival, Kevin Rawley (Owen Wilson), who adores
Pam, Plus, he must cope with Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba), a flirtatious pharmaceutical sales rep promoting Sustengo (an erectile dysfunction drug), along with the sleazy contractor (Harvey Keitel) who is taking his time remodeling the suburban Focker house.
And there’s the psychological trauma of the twins’ interviews for “Early Human School,” an elite, ultra-progressive institution run by Prudence (Laura Dern).
Written by John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey, it’s directed by Paul Weitz, who never elicits the humor that the previous director Jay Roach mastered. As a result, it’s dismal
from beginning to end, reaching a new low when one of our finest actors, Robert DeNiro, suffers a painful five-hour erection after pilfering a Sustengo sample from Greg’s hospital bag and must submit to a syringe plunged into his penis by his son-in-law and accidentally witnessed by his horrified grandson.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Little Fockers” is a lewd, vulgar, tiresome 2. A popular quote on Twitter reads: “I bet the Robert DeNiro of ‘Taxi Driver’ would shoot the Robert DeNiro of ‘Little Fockers’.”