Meet the Parents Reviews
"Meet the Parents" is a 2000 comedy that pits the innocent and good willed character of Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) against the stern and overly protective father, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro). The movie portrays the struggle between the character of an average human being and a "higher" type of society. This type of struggle is something that most people are familiar with, which makes this movie one that most can easily connect with.
Greg wants to propose to his girlfriend, Pam, but moments before doing so, finds out that it is very respectful in her family to ask the father's permission first. Thus starts a weekend that couldn't possibly go any worse.
It starts off innocent enough; Greg hears that Pam's father, Jack, is in the flower business so he buys Jack a Jerusalem Tulip ("one of the rarest and most beautiful flowers in existence"). Little does Greg know, Pam's father isn't in the flower business at all. He's an ex-CIA interrogation expert. Essentially, he's a human lie detector. This is not a good mix, considering Greg finds himself having to lie more and more just to try to dig himself out of his self-created hole. After a very awkward exchange of hellos, Pam's parents show Greg a project that Jack has been working on. At this point, the question that will plague the entire movie drops.
"Can you ever really trust another human being, Greg?"
Greg, trying to come up with the best answer for Jack, responds, "Sure, I think so."
"No, the answer is you cannot."
Jack hands Greg a teddy bear and points out that there is a hidden camera in it. Not only in the teddy bear, but there are hidden cameras all throughout the house. Jack smiles and says, "... No matter where you go, we'll be watching you."
Slowly and slowly, Greg finds ways to accidently let his spot within the "Byrne's family circle of trust" diminish. He breaks an urn containing the ashes of Jack's mother, gives Pam's sister (who is a bride-to-be, herself) a black eye, and loses the family cat that Jack considers as another child.
For but a small moment in the movie, Greg finds himself in the very center of the Byrne's family circle of trust, but this too is due to a hilarious situation which is based upon a lie. Let's just say it involves an imposter cat with a spray-painted tail. But again, this moment of glory is short lived, and Greg soon finds himself even more estranged from the circle than before.
The movie begins to beg the question: how one is supposed to honestly live up to society's expectations if they are not being themselves? Can you really expect to trust someone else if you are piling on unrealistic expectations? No, the answer is you cannot. Yet, Greg finds himself well over his head in this disastrous contradiction. To make matters even worse, Jack's family seems to have no shortage of snobby critics who judge Greg at every turn.
What makes the movie so enjoyable (even despite the never ending "cringe" moments) is that Ben Stiller's character is so relatable. He is someone who is not perfect, and is just trying to make a decent impression on Pam's family. Because of this, it is very easy to put one's self into his shoes. His situation is a very real (and thus very scary) situation that isn't too far out of the world of possibilities.
Overall, Meet the Parents is a success. It is a comedy that doesn't try too hard to impress because it doesn't need to try too hard. We've all been in these types of situations before so we can find ourselves laughing at both the movie, and ourselves, time and time again.