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MEET THE PARENTS (2000)

Jewish male nurse Greg Focker and Pam Byrnes are madly in love and Greg plans a romantic way to ask her. Just before Greg asks Pam to marry him, he inadvertently learns that it is expected that he, Greg, must make a weekend visit to meet her parents, her family, and ask her strict father, Jack Byrnes a retired florist, (who is really a CIA interrogator), for Pam's hand in marriage. Everything that can go wrong, does.

The cast includes: Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson, Jon Abrahams, Nicole DeHuff, James Rebhorn, Thomas McCarthy, Phyllis George, and Bernie Sheredy.

Directed by: Jay Roach. Screenplay by: Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg, based on the screenplay by Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke.

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Promotional Lines:

"First comes love. Then comes the interrogation." "No Pressure."

"He finally met the girl of his dreams. Too bad her dad's a nightmare."

"Meet the Parents is a pick me up for anyone who thinks he has had a bad day."

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Synopsis:

Jewish Male nurse Greg Focker and Pam Byrnes are madly in love and Greg plans a romantic way to ask her. Just before Greg asks Pam to marry him, he inadvertently learns that it is expected that he, Greg, must make a weekend visit to meet her parents, her family, and ask her strict father, Jack Byrnes a retired florist, (who is really a CIA interrogator), for Pam's hand in marriage. Everything that can go wrong, does. Squirmy hilarity reigns as Greg desperately tries his best to make a good impression, with Jack, a man who doesn't like him, making things difficult for him. In most instances, Greg makes a fool of himself, in a continuous comedy of errors, sometimes in front of the entire family. He truly becomes a fool for love.

Review:

The film opens with male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) rehearsing his marriage proposal with one of his patients in a Chicago hospital. Fully encouraged and sure of himself, he meets with the love of his life, Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), who he is living with, outside her classroom where she teaches. He puts his plan in motion, getting down on one knee. But before he can start, Pam receives a cell phone call from her sister, Deborah (Nicole DeHuff) who excitedly announces that she is engaged to a Doctor Bob Banks (Thomas McCarthy), and will marry him in two weeks at the family Byrnes home. Greg finds out that Doctor Bob had played his cards right, and had given the parents, Jack (Robert DeNiro) and Dina Byrnes (Blythe Danner), a special gift, and had asked the father, Jack Byrnes for the sister's hand in marriage.

Desperately in love with Pam, Greg Focker knows what he must do; make a good impression with her family, especially her father. Two weeks later, he travels by plane with Pam to Oyster Bay, to meet her parents, her family, attend the wedding and ask her father, Jack, for Pam's hand in marriage.

Things start going wrong at the airport in Oyster Bay. The airline has lost his baggage with the engagement ring inside, and a baby throws up on him at the lost baggage department. Upon arriving at the Byrnes' home driveway, Pam confides to Greg that she hasn't told her father yet that they are living together and also tells Greg that he won't be able to smoke here, so he throws his cigarette pack on the roof. Little does Greg know that Jack Byrnes isn't a retired florist, but is a CIA interrogator, with a sixth sense for lying, with a lie detector in his basement. He also has the tendency to be suspicious and over protective, making him a nightmare for suitors of his daughter's affections.

What a family reunion on the front porch!! Pam jumps joyously into her father's arms and wraps her feet around him. Uh Oh!! Pam is still her "Daddy's little girl." Thus begins the weekend from hell, a time where everything hilariously goes wrong for Greg. Not only must Greg do without cigarettes, sex and time with his Pam, he must deal with her eccentric family, spend time with Pam's perfect ex-fiancee (Kevin Rawly), and subsequently makes a fool of himself because he tries too hard to please.

He desperately wants to please Jack Byrnes, but things start off on the wrong foot between Greg and Jack Byrnes. Jack, naturally on instinct, keeps Greg psychologically off-balance, catches Greg in some small lies, mistakenly thinks Greg is a pot smoker, when it is Jack's son who is a pot head.

Unfortunately, this comedy of errors and misunderstandings just escalate. Major faux pas suffered by Greg include overdoing a water volleyball spike, which gives the bride-to-be, Deborah, a bloody nose and swelled eye, being blamed for the septic tank fiasco, as he mistakenly flushes the toilet off his guest room in the den, and some hilarious misadventures stemming from Jenxie, the treasured cat, that Jack has trained to use the toilet, and other tricks, like carrying the ring bearer's pillow.

A favorite sequence of scenes begins when Greg is trying to talk to the airlines about his missing luggage in his guest room in the den and the pampered Jenxie is clawing his leg. Not thinking, he puts the house-cat-only Jenxie outside of the screen door. After he gets off the phone, he realizes his mistake and chases after the cat, who jumps on the roof. Greg follows, but stops to rest when the cat is out of reach. He finds his cigarette pack, and succumbs to a smoke. Half-way through his cigarette, Jenxie slips toward the edge of the roof, about to fall about 5 feet down on top of Jack Byrnes who is on the phone, speaking Thai.

Greg throws his cigarette, which lands on top of some leaves in the rain gutter. Greg grabs Jenxie's collar with both hands, but notices that the leaves have caught fire. As he stomps on the leaves with his foot, the cat slips out of his collar and lands safely on the ground. The rain gutter swings loose, knocking down electrical wiring which sets the backyard on fire! Woody Allen or Peter Sellers couldn't of done better.

Jenxie disappears, much to everyone's concern and Jack's shame. Jack is volunteered by Pam to find the cat. Desperate to clean up his image, Jack goes to the pound and finds a cat that looks identical to Jenxie, except the tip of the tail, which Jack paints. When this impostor cat causes big disastrous problems, Jack gives up in frustration and prepares to leave, which is when the airlines deliver his long lost luggage, and everyone learns of his birth name, Gaylord!

After paying a huge fee increase on his ticket, he boards a plane to go back to Chicago, not in the best of moods. He determinedly tries to fit his luggage into the overhead compartment, but is told by the flight attendant (Kali Rocha) that he must check his bag. Greg loses it in a hilarious verbal diatribe, and winds up being dragged off the plane, arrested by airport police. When Jack Byrnes realizes that Pam truly loves Greg, he goes to the airport and finds Greg in a lot of trouble. The two work out their issues in a poignant scene, and Jack humorously winds up asking Greg to be his son-in-law, a fitting ending for this comedy! Greg finds a romantic way to propose to his Pam, and the film ends on a high note.

This entertaining, if squirmy comedic screenplay was written by James Herzfeld and John Hamburg, based on the 1992 screenplay, by Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke. The screenplay "contains intelligent, non-bathroom humor, gags are well set up."

The original musical score was composed by Randy Newman. He sings the opening theme song as well, "Only A Fool in Love."

The fine, comedic direction was by Jay Roach, who also has directed all the Austin Power films. He does a great job bringing out the comic talent of this fabulous cast, and made sure that the pacing and comic tension build-up was just right, not overdoing it.

It was obvious that the cast had a lot of fun with their parts, whether in ensemble work , or individual performances, which really brings the script to life, making it really work, as they add their own creative talents to their parts.

Ben Stiller's comic genius is showcased in his portrayal of the unlucky Greg Focker, trying to survive one of the worst weekends of his life. He proves that he is not only a gifted comedian, but can also be a romantic, poignant leading man.

Robert DeNiro in his wonderful portrayal of Jack Byrnes brings home the scope and width of the man's acting talent. Whether its a comedy or drama, DeNiro can bring perfect definition, fully filling out his character.

Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller together produced great screen chemistry and squirmy humor which amuses the audience, perhaps bringing back to mind embarrassing moments in one's past concerning human relationships in extended families.

Teri Polo is convincing as Pamela Byrnes, who unwittingly shoots Greg in the foot several times so to speak, and finds herself in a familiar place; presenting a serious boyfriend to a suspicious, protective father who has a hard time accepting anyone as being good enough for his daughter. Her moment of truth fast approaches.

Owen Wilson is entertaining as Pam's ex-fiancee, Kevin Rawley, who had managed to meet the high expectations of Jack Byrnes, but had not won Pam's heart, though he still has pictures of himself and Pam all over the house. Jack loves Kevin, which isn't easy for Greg. Kevin is a master carpenter, does ice sculptures, is a practicing Christian and makes a wondrous wooden wedding altar for Deborah and Dr. Bob, carved out of one block of wood!!

Blythe Danner is perfect as Pam's mother, Dina Byrnes, a pleasant if slightly spacy woman who is kind to Greg.

Rated PG-13 for language, sexual humor, and drug references/content.

Quotes:

Pam: "Greg Honey, how are you doing?"

Greg Focker: "Oh great, considering I desecrated your Grandma's remains, found out you were engaged, and had your Father ask me to milk him!"

If you enjoyed MEET THE PARENTS, you may like THE PARENT TRAP, SIXTEEN CANDLES, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, DECONSTRUCTING HARRY, and GIANT.