Little Fockers posterRemember how terrible The Godfather III was? Little Fockers is kind of like that, except without the added shockof coming as the sequel to two of the best movies in the history of the cinema.Meet the Fockers was a noticeablestep down in quality from the original Meet the Parents, and Little Fockers is a similar descent, although still far from a badmovie. It’s getting a lot of bad press, but I have always thought that thiscast of actors has always worked particularly well on screen. And they’re stillworking well here, but the writers have clearly run out of ideas.

It’s been a decade since we first met Greg Focker (BenStiller) and watched him try in vain to win the respect of his soon-to-befather-in-law Jack (Robert DeNiro). The movie is centered around a birthdayparty for Pam (Teri Polo) and Greg’s twins, one of whom won’t talk to herfather and the other of whom has no friends other than a pet lizard. Doubledose of Focker, indeed.

Greg is having some financial troubles and so lands a job ata drug company, which earns him the rekindled suspicions of his ex-CIAfather-in-law and the drunken come-ons of a ridiculously hot pharmaceuticalsrep charmingly named Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba), who wants him to make himselfthe most famous Focker in America by becoming the spokesperson for hercompany’s erectile dysfunction drug (what else?).

Meanwhile Kevin is back, Pam’s ex-boyfriend who Jackapparently still has hopes for. Seems a little strange after Pam and Greg havebeen married for years and years now, but Kevin does have some of the funniestmoments in the movie, so maybe that’s it. Or maybe it was his humble entrance on his private jet while on vacationfrom a Buddhist retreat on his private island. Fathers like it when theirdaughters date guys with private jets, I understand.

Teri Polo and Ben Stiller in Little FockersI’m disappointed that the movie is titled after the kids butis still entirely focused on the parents (and grandparents), but at the sametime I’m also glad it didn’t turn into a movie about kids. Go figure. The rivalry between Jack and Greg beingbrought back to the forefront may seem like a rehash of old ideas, but it was agood one and played by the perfect actors, which is why the movie is still ableto generate good laughs despite an almost total lack of originality.

The real problem with the movie is in the writing, despitesome good slapstick. The movie has a spectacular cast, but the vast majority ofthem are badly underused. I’m all for cameos, but when a movie has more cameosthan real roles, it gives you the feeling that there was a lot of content thatended up not working and so ended up on the cutting room floor, leaving youwith Dustin Hoffman appearing only at the very beginning and end of the movieand with no connection at all to the story, or with Harvey Keitel in an awesomerole as a tattooed construction guy that is as funny as it is short.

Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller in Little FockersThe movie is enjoyable as a reunion of a hilarious cast, butthe staleness of the writing is never far from the front of your mind. Themovie opens, for example, with an aging Jack defibrillating himself with a pairof live wires from his lie-detector machine, getting a resignedI-hope-it-gets-better-than-this sigh from the audience, and is overflowing withjokes about erectile dysfunction, and unfortunately the movie makes the enormousmistake of thinking it’s still funny that Greg is a male nurse. In fact, thatwas only funny in one or two scenes in the original movie (once when Jackcalled him “Greg R.N.,” and the other when Jack politely said “Not a lot of menin your profession, are there Greg?”)

Yeah, maybe it’s tough for an ex-CIA man to be impressed bya male nurse, but I know some male nurses and those guys are pretty impressive,to say nothing of the fact that Greg is now head of his department at a majorChicago hospital. That’s money, my friends!

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