Screen Rant’s Mike Eisenberg Reviews Little Fockers
Little Fockers is one of the most disappointing and pitiful movies of 2010. The first film was a welcome addition to the plethora of awkward family dinner comedies, but Little Fockers is not only a cheap excuse for a threequel, but a cheap excuse for a film in general.
Director Paul Weitz steps into a franchise that has more than overstayed its welcome, regardless of its big box office numbers. The problem isn’t so much a relentless and misguided need to play off more “Focker” jokes – it isn’t the fact the movie barely even shows the titular children. The movie’s biggest flaw isn’t even the tiresome predictability of Gaylord Focker’s (Ben Stiller) awkward mishaps. This film ruins your evening with the bastardization of one of Robert De Niro’s most prized films, The Godfather: Part II.
Little Fockers catches up with the Focker clan in their modest Chicago apartment. The two children are old enough now to play along with the immature profanity-related jokes and provide the occasional hilarious projectile vomit gag. But the movie is honestly not about the children, regardless of what the title suggests. The real focus of Little Fockers is, once again, the relationship between Jack Byrnes (De Niro) and Gaylord Focker.
Heart trouble has forced Jack to revisit the family tree and begin the transfer of “power” to whomever is next in line. Through a series of character-deleting exposition-heavy discussions, Jack reveals it to be Gaylord. The remainder of the film is a series of situations in which Gaylord attempts to authenticate his newly appointed position as… wait for it… the “Godfocker.”
The minds behind Little Fockers found this joke to be so funny that De Niro repeats it multiple times. Yet, the film’s way of exploring the plot is through lazy Godfather-related jokes and the typical clumsy Focker routine.
Maybe I am nitpicking here, but one scene involving a turkey dinner and a blood-spraying wound that results in a minor bandaging (hint – the trailers give it away) had me desperately wanting to leave the theater out of sheer absurdity. Similar occurrences make the entire movie just as unbearable.
At some point, somebody must have shown De Niro the script written by John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey. I struggle to comprehend how the ensuing discussion resulted in De Niro saying, “Sure, I’ll do that.” De Niro’s longtime friend and producer Jane Rosenthal has told us many times that De Niro truly enjoys comedy. In recent interviews, the actor has referred to his affinity for the cast and crew in explaining his return for a third installment. But why now is he suddenly poking fun at his own legendary roles?
There is more to Little Fockers than the frustration of watching one of America’s acting legends take a dive. It also features the new addition of Jessica Alba. Her performance fits right in with the strange, unamusing humor of the rest of the film. One could argue she was a scene stealer at times, sufficiently stealing all life remaining from her few moments on screen.
Alba portrays Andi Garcia, a hyperactive drug representative who acts like a giddy 15-year-old girl and who oddly asks for fist bumps instead of hand shakes. Her presence in the film exists solely for creating the suspicion of infidelity on Gaylord’s part and the pleasure of hearing Jessica Alba sell an erectile dysfunction pill called Sustengo. Ultimately, her character is a waste and only stretches the plot so thin that it is barely visible.
To the film’s credit, there is the occasional spark of comedy. De Niro isn’t all slop and sometimes pulls through with a classic Jack Byrnes moment. His initial 911 call after experiencing what his wife refers to as “chest palps” is what I want out of De Niro’s comedic side. Laura Dern is hilarious as the Headmistress of an elementary school called the Early Human School. Harvey Keitel’s face-to-face confrontation with De Niro is a classic moment worth waiting for if you force yourself to watch Little Fockers.
Regardless of the accidentally funny parts, Little Fockers is a mess. It is everything we have come to expect the third installment of a comedy to be. How many times have you honestly seen a good comedic trilogy? You won’t see it here. Skip this disaster, re-watch the original and keep your positive image of Robert De Niro’s career intact.
My main concern is the franchise has already made nearly $850 million worldwide and people really seem to love it. They will blindly attend showings of Little Fockers. I urge you not to see it for two reasons. The first is for your, and Robert De Niro’s, own good. The second reason is to prevent franchises like these from milking your pockets without putting in any effort to raise the bar on comedy.
Check out the trailer to Little Fockers: