Meet The Parents


Directed by: Jay Roach
Written by:Jim Herzfeld, John Hamburg
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Nicole DeHuff, James Rebhorn, Owen Wilson
Released: December 26, 2000
Grade: B

They’ve been dating for only 10 months but already, Greg (Stiller) is ready to pop the question to Pam (Polo).  He’s created a wonderfully romantic way of asking her but just before the moment presents itself, Pam gets a phone call from her sister, Debbie.  It seems Debbie has just gotten engaged herself with the husband-to-be asking permission from her father, Jack (DeNiro).  Greg wants to do it right and knows that before anything continues, he’s going to have to meet the parents.

Right from the start of the three-day trip to the parents’ home, Greg knows that Jack is out to crucify him.  He pounces on every false move he makes and when he discovers that Jack worked in the CIA for over 30 years, he knows he’s met his match.  At one point, Jack even has Greg on a lie-detector machine asking questions like “have you ever watched any pornographic material?”

Meet The Parents is a situational comedy from director Jay Roach (Austin Powers).  Believe it or not, it’s actually a remake of a low-budget film made in 1992.  Original writer and director Greg Glienna helped make the 2000 version.

On face value, the film is very entertaining.  Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller work effectively together and create incredibly squirming situations.  This is best illustrated when Greg tries to tell a joke that Jack doesn’t get - you can’t help but feel uncomfortable.  I was not a fan of DeNiro in Analyze This (although a lot of people were) but I’m much more appreciative of his comedic talent following Meet The Parents.  Blythe Danner (mother of Gwyneth Paltrow) is also great as the mother and her quirkiness is really funny to watch - you don't what she’ll say next.

Disappointingly, the movie did not at all flow well.  On one hand, there were two great scenes that ended rather abruptly - the urn and the lie detector and both I feel could have been taken much further for more laughs.  On the other hand, there were scenes that seemed childish and out of place with particular emphasis on the bogged car in the back yard.  Frankly, the last half hour spoilt much of the previous work as it tries to tie up loose ends with sentiment - completely unnecessary.  All in all it adds up to a film with promise that doesn’t fully deliver.

Soaring high above the American box-office charts for four weeks (the most of any film this year) and bound to debut atop the Australian charts, Meet The Parents will be talked about as a must see film of 2000.  If there’s one thing I’ll remember the film for, it’s Greg’s surname that seems to pop up from time to time and is spoken so nonchalantly and casually.  I won’t spoil it for those yet to see it but it makes room for several jokes that are the highlight of the film.