Posted on 1/16/11 05:35 AM
It's tragic to see this comedy trilogy come to a close in such a lazy and formulaic manner. The first film, in this reviewer's opinion, is a comedy classic with an exemplary look at a paranoid connection between father-in-law and son-in-law. The second film was a bit more focused on more simple jokes and slapstick, but was pushed forward by great performances from the cast and a clever, if traditional, script. So it's unbelievable how low-key Little Fockers really is. Talent is wasted, boring jokes are thrown around and the story is a complete rehash of everything that has come before.
There is an initial promise that this film now focuses on the family life of Greg and Pam Focker, who now have two kids in their home and are on the look-out for the finest preschools available to them. However, this is not the case at all. Whereas they could have worked on the strain of parental duties on a relationship and the different roles of each family member, they instead decide to crowbar *another* tale where Jack Burns, Greg's father-in-law, suspects foul play in their relationship. The children only appear as an after-thought, providing only a few subtle twists on the familiar formula. Now, supposedly, Jack is thinking about his grandchildren but he's portrayed more as a megalomaniacal tyrant with no common sense or compassion for anyone but himself. This is not acceptable, since even though he displayed overplayed worries in the former films, you could always at some point relate to him due to his caring nature towards his daughter. This time, he's just a bully.
Most of the cast do their job adequately (Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro do have a good acting chemistry), since when push comes to shove, they can still act. However, it's the script that is their downfall. The jokes are painfully predictable, and when they're not, they're just plain bad. Occasional jokes will manage to make you smile, but they're too few and far between. Meanwhile, the aforementioned plot reeks of familiarity every step of the way. It doesn't help that Jessica Alba was brought in to play the supposed temptress, and effectively makes a fool of herself as a most bewildering persona in the film, a drug rep with a drug problem. Another rather odd inclusion is Dustin Hoffman. He was until the last second supposed to be absent from the film, but he was (very obviously) pushed in at the last second. It makes his character not only seem forced, but inherently awkward.
It's a shame that the film didn't focus more on the kids, since they are likeable enough and would've offered a different look on each given character. Instead, they're shoved to the sidelines while Greg and Jack once more duel with their frustrations, for the third bloody time in their lives. This happens despite the fact that both of the former two films end in them being good friends, and Greg staying in Jack's "circle of trust", and needless to say, that's how this film ends too. Luckily, there won't be further chances to exploit the tales of the Focker family due to this being the finale. This is not only a disappointment, but an insult to the fans of the series. It's completely irrelevant, devoid of wit and borderline lazy. This is not how to make a sequel, this is how to make a tragedy.