A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Meet the Parents is a 2000 movie in which Robert DeNiro plays an overprotective and snooping father to a daughter who has brought home a boyfriend played by Ben Stiller who is well-intentioned and eager to win her father's affections but seems to make the worst mistakes at the most inopportune times. This movie has some strong language (including "s--t"), especially in reference to Greg's unfortunate last name (Focker); drug use plus cigarette smoking by the main character; and potty humor -- a septic tank backs up on the lawn, for starters. There's plenty of lying, spying, and sneaking around by the main characters that they eventually all need to own up to -- like when Greg loses the cat and tries to replace it with a look-alike from the local shelter. While trying to initiate sex, Greg uses a pet name for his penis as he begins to fondle the breasts of his girlfriend. Greg inadvertently positions a nanny-cam so it's looking up the skirt of his girlfriend's mother. An ex-boyfriend of Greg's girlfriend tells him how she's a "tomcat." Homophobic and sexist jokes, along with comments about Greg's Jewish background.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In MEET THE PARENTS, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) loves Pam (Teri Polo) and wants to make a good impression on her father, Jack (Robert De Niro), who specializes in sweating the truth out of double agents in the CIA. Everything goes wrong. Jack's natural overprotectiveness meets with Greg's panicky clumsiness. The airline loses Greg's suitcase, so he has to borrow bizarre clothes -- enormous pants from Pam's brother, a tiny Speedo bathing suit from Pam's former fiancé. Greg is compared to Pam's sister's fiancé, a doctor, and to Pam's former boyfriend (Owen Wilson), now fabulously wealthy and still pining for her. Greg, who is Jewish, is asked to say grace at dinner and can only helplessly babble the lyrics from Godspell. And, in the movie's high point, Greg has to cope with the only situation more grueling than a terrifying in-law: airline bureaucracy.
Is it any good?
Depending on your sense of humor, this movie is either hilarious or agonizing or both. Written by the screenwriter of the awful Meet the Deedles (who will we meet next? The Fockers, of course) and from the director of Austin Powers, Meet the Parents is a sub-category of comedy that can only be termed "comedies of excruciation," in which we laugh at the hideously humiliating experiences of some poor sap. If this is your kind of humor, then this is your kind of movie.
There are many jokes about Greg's name (Focker, get it?) and his occupation (nurse, which isn't manly, get it?). Jokes center on a catheter, a "Mountie strap-on dildo," a cat who uses the toilet, a cat strung out on nicotine gum, a fire, and an overflowing septic tank. The scene in which Greg battles the airline rules is worth at least three stars on its own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the kinds of laughs this comedy goes for. Is the humiliation of these characters funny? How does their dishonesty keep them from getting along? Why does Greg's stressed-out nature make him more susceptible to laughs at his expense? Does it bother you that Pam doesn't stand up to her father more? Is she contributing in some way to Greg's misery?
How does this movie mine humor out of exaggeration, in the situations and the relationships among the characters? How would the movie be different without that exaggeration? What are some examples of other movies in which exaggeration is employed for the sake of comedy?
How was pratfall violence used in this movie? What are some other examples of movies with lots of pratfall violence?
- In theaters: October 6, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: December 14, 2004
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo
- Director: Jay Roach
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: drug references, sexual references and situations, and language
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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