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review added: 3/29/01



Meet the Parents
Collector's Edition - 2000 (2001) - DreamWorks/Universal (Universal)

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Meet the Parents: Collector's Edition Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B+/A-

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A-/A-

Specs and Features

108 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 36:11 in chapter 6), Amaray keep case packaging, Spotlight on Location: Meet the Parents, audio commentary (with stars Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, director Jay Roach and producer Jane Rosenthal), audio commentary (with director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll), 2 deleted scenes with optional commentary (by Jay Roach and Jon Poll), 12 minutes of outtakes, "lie detector" test, The Forecaster quiz, Universal Studios Orlando theme park ad, theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and crew bios, DVD-ROM features (including games, screen savers, wallpaper and more), DVD newsletter info, preview trailers for The Mummy Returns and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD and DTS 5.1) and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English


Mrs. Byrnes: "Now, Greg... you have a very unique last name, and we were curious - how do you pronounce it?"

Greg: "Just like it's spelled: f-o-c-k-e-r."

Mrs. Byrnes: "Focker?"

Mr. Byrnes: "Focker."

Meet the Parents is a film that will hit close to home for a lot of people at the beginning... and then just slip into absurdity somewhere in the middle. Greg (Ben Stiller) is a male nurse in Chicago, who lives with his loving girlfriend, Pam (Teri Polo). Just as Greg is going to propose to Pam, his big moment is interrupted when Pam's sister calls to announce her own wedding... in two weeks at their parents' house in New York. From this situation, Greg discovers - very unexpectedly - that Pam's father, Jack Byrnes (Robert DeNiro), is the old fashioned type, and thinks better of his daughters' suitors when they ask his permission to propose to his beloved children. Thinking better of asking for Pam's hand in marriage at that moment, Greg decides to wait a couple of weeks for the big weekend to talk to Jack personally, and do the whole thing right. Sounds easy enough… if only it were.

Fast-forward two weeks. Greg and Pam arrive at her parents' house, and Greg immediately feels like an outsider. Jack turns out to be an intimidating and inquisitive man, examining Greg so closely that he becomes very conscious of every sideways look or questioning glance offered by Jack. Greg was told that Jack spent his career as a florist - turns out that Jack is an ex-C.I.A. agent specializing in psychological profiling. This little nugget of truth, coupled with his tendency to be an overprotective father, begins to explain some of Jack's extreme behavior. The next day, the rest of the family shows up, including Pam's sister, brother, the groom and the groom's parents. And as the weekend becomes more hectic with the wedding approaching, Greg falls into many more mishaps that remove him even further from the fold. Will Greg's relationship with Pam end in disaster, or will he eventually warm his way into her family's heart?

Meet the Parents is incredibly enjoyable for the first 70 minutes. The chemistry between DeNiro's menacing, interrogative character and Stiller's desperate-to-be-accepted nice guy role is brilliant. The script puts the characters into many situations that are naturally funny, because they are very plausible. Nothing seems to be going right for Greg, no matter how hard he tries to be pleasant and open with Pam's parents. But then, after about the 70-minute mark, the movie loses its comedic footing. Greg begins to get HIMSELF into situations that are easily avoidable. He starts to lie to Jack and attempts to deceive the family in order to rescue himself from disastrous scenarios. These character turns took me out of the movie somewhat and made me laugh much less than the subtle, yet incredibly successful, humor of the first hour. During the finale, the film begins to redeem itself, and the ending in the airport is very enjoyable. Which brings me to another point - this film is merciless in its commentary about the state of air travel today. Anyone who has ever been subjected to the tortures of modern day air travel and the customer apathy the airlines demonstrate will definitely want to make it a priority to see this film. You will laugh… a lot.

Universal has presented Meet the Parents on DVD as a feature-laden Collector's Edition, beginning with fairly decent anamorphic video (framed at 1.85:1). The picture is generally smooth and detailed, but takes on a slightly soft look occasionally. Colors, while mostly accurate, seem a touch on the washed-out side. Compression artifacting is slight and edge enhancement is never an issue with this transfer.

Universal has provided dual Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks on this disc. Given that this is a comedy, the Dolby Digital track is predictably low key, with few raucous sound effects and directional activity. The dialog is always natural and understandable, and Randy Newman's score is well recorded and nicely spread around the listener during the film. There are a few directional effects blended effectively into the mix, and ambiance is generally subtle, yet believable. The DTS track very slightly edges out the Dolby offering in sonic clarity, but the differences are so subtle that they're barely worth mentioning. Both tracks are more than suited for their purpose.

Universal has included a bevy of supplements on this DVD, beginning with two commentary tracks. The first features stars Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro, director Jay Roach and producer Jane Rosenthal. It's an okay track, with some funny moments offered by Stiller, but don't expect much from DeNiro. He says maybe three sentences through the whole thing, and needed to be prodded to say anything at all. The second track is actually more enjoyable and more informative. It again features Jay Roach, this time teamed with editor Jon Poll. This commentary offers more insight into the making of the film, and even includes some humorous anecdotes. The now familiar Universal Spotlight on Location featurette appears on this disc... and, predictably, the 24-minute featurette isn't very good. Sure... there's plenty of interviews and some behind-the-scenes footage, but what it comes down to is mostly members of the cast and crew waxing each other's backsides. There's only so much saccharine admiration I can withstand inside of a half-hour. A series of outtakes (that lasts approximately 10 minutes) is the next feature you'll find. They're pretty amusing and are worth a look, but consist mostly of DeNiro cracking up during takes. Two deleted scenes (with or without director's commentary) can also be found on this disc. The first scene, "Surf and Turd", is incredibly funny and is more amusing than some of the bits found in the final film. A couple of text-based interactive features (based on moments in the film - the lie detector test and the Forecaster game) have you answering questions, and give you results at the end. They're mildly amusing, but I'd be surprised if you went back to them more than once. Cast and crew bios and production notes conclude the video-side supplements. And, last but not least, those with DVD-ROM access will find a couple of PC Friendly features such as games, screen savers and wallpaper.

All in all, Meet the Parents is a funny film with great performances by Stiller and DeNiro. It might get a little ridiculous near the middle, but the ending makes up for it. On DVD, it's well worth a look.

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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