“Hey, listen, be nice to this one, okay? I kinda like him.”
This fast paced movie presents a common fear in relationships today – will your family like me? – and turns it into a comedy roller coaster full of funny, over the top situations. Ben Stiller (There’s Something About Mary) plays a nurse named Greg (his last name provides countless wordplay/reference jokes throughout the movie…and the two sequels) who wants to marry teacher Pam Byrnes, played by Teri Polo. First, Greg must meet the approval of Pam’s father Jack, played by Robert DeNiro, and her mother Dina, Blythe Danner, who are busy planning their other daughter’s wedding.
Unfortunately Danner doesn’t get much to do except react to the other characters…wasn’t this movie called Meet the Parents? DeNiro plays the stereotypical, “hard to please” father who grills Greg about any characteristic that could have a negative effect his daughter Pam. Pam’s ex-fiancé Kevin, played by Owen Wilson, also presents a potential challenge to Greg and Pam’s relationship, but the movie targets your funny bone instead of dramatics and menacing tension. The Wilson-Stiller partnership works well in several movies and does the job here as well.
Notice the director Jay Roach’s clever camera use to enhance the comedy in an interior airport scene and a sequence during dinner. Roach (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) and his crew provide clean cinematography and quality visuals so the now classic dialogue, gag and comedic situations maximize their impact.
Not much character development here, but the simple plot keeps the movie from turning into a melodramatic mess. The music works really well with Randy Newman’s musical score and “A Fool In Love” song, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Rated PG-13 and recommended with reservations (**1/2 out of four stars).
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler