(Paul Weitz, 2010, USA)
The term ‘scraping the barrel’ is a phrase that all too easily springs to mind when it comes to describing Little Fockers, the third and hopefully final entry in this incredibly tired franchise. Yet again rehashing jokes from previous instalments and trying desperately to squeeze every drop of comedy out of its worn premise, the film tries desperately hard to be fresh and inventive yet ends up being a hideously misconceived and at times embarrassing outing for these weary characters.
The plot, if you can call it that, is threadbare at best; Greg ‘Gaylord’ Focker, played by Stiller (who is again the brunt of many jokes) and wife Pam (Polo) are now proud parents of twins and living a contented life in Chicago. However, their life is increasingly disrupted by Greg’s firm father-in-law Jack (De Niro), his sexually brazen mother (Streisand) and the constant intrusions of Pam’s ex-flame (Wilson), who is brought back into the storyline for literally no apparent reason. What follows is a film made up of grotesque and largely unfunny jokes that range from a mishap with a carving knife, erectile dysfunction medication and a lame running gag about the actor Andy Garcia. Throw in a bevy of big-name cameos, references to Jaws and a ridiculous joke about Jack anointing Greg as ‘The Godfocker’, and it is plain to see just how desperate this franchise has become and how willing De Niro is to defecate over his early career by starring in this mindless drivel. These hijinks culminate in a tacked on yuletide finale which feels forced and out of place, obviously the product of the many drafts the screenplay went through with its abundance of writers, which is always a bad sign.
The aforementioned cameos concern Harvey Keitel, Laura Dern and Jessica Alba, who are all drafted in to pump-up the comedic quota but their roles are all flat and lifeless, with Alba contributing perhaps the most annoying performance of the year as a saleswoman using Greg to pedal the new erectile dysfunction drug ‘Sustengo’. Dustin Hoffman is also dragged back to the fold for a few scenes as Greg’s father, though he is mostly relegated to a subplot concerning him learning Flamenco dancing in Seville, and his appearances are far too sporadic. In fact, Hoffman and Streisand are pushed so far to the sidelines that it’s a wonder why they even agreed to take part, despite the obviously healthy pay-cheque.
Considering the enjoyable opening chapter, Meet the Parents, it is a pity to see this trilogy bow out in such an unbearably misconceived way, but then again the problems with these films were their relatively unoriginal premises and their desperation to carve humour from each and every opportunity, Little Fockers is no exception and acts as a turkey that arrives just in time for Christmas.