Meet the Parents: Collector's Edition
In Meet the Parents a de facto sequel to There's Something About Mary, only watered down by way of Father of the Bride Ben Stiller plays yet another flawed loser subjected to relationship-themed cruelty. This time around, he's Greg Focker, a male nurse trying desperately to impress his girlfriend's parents one of whom (Robert DeNiro) is an ex-CIA spook who isn't buying whatever Focker's selling. This movie's very much a mainstream American comedy, but don't let that discourage you: This extras-padded disc is well worth a spin, thanks largely to Jay Roach's intelligent and restrained direction, plus two capable performances at the film's center. It's Stiller and DeNiro's interactions that elevate Meet the Parents into repeat-viewing territory. Their exchanges, well-directed on broad and subtle levels, have an almost rhythmic quality Stiller says something boastful or ass-kissy or semi-truthful, then DeNiro says something that either (a) goads Stiller into a deeper lie, or (b) shuts Stiller down completely. This happens again and again and again, and it takes actors of skill (and editors of skill) to play it without the whole thing degenerating into repetitive, sit-commy goo. That said, the movie spends its first two-thirds setting high hurdles for itself hurdles it can't quite manage to jump at the end. The ending features typical outburst/resolution claptrap, and narrative threads are repeatedly snipped . (On the commentary track, Roach and Stiller discuss how a surveillance motif was to be used throughout the film and, as usual with DVD, you want to smack the filmmakers' about the face and neck for second-guessing themselves.) Also, Greg Focker really is kind of a weasel: The script often calls upon him to do little more than glower and tell compounding white lies, which actually makes him a little hard to root for. Still, there's plenty of funny stuff not to mention a morbidly fascinating commentary track featuring Roach and Stiller trying repeatedly to coax DeNiro into sharing any sort of anecdote or opinion and, again and again and again, failing miserably. Universal's "Collector's Edition" DVD release features an anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85:1), with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. "Spotlight on Location" featurette, two deleted scenes (with optional commentary), outtakes, two (extremely silly) games, theatrical trailer, production notes. Keep-case.
(Editor's Note: Universal's second DVD release of Meet the Parents, a "Bonus Edition" released in December 2004 to promote the theatrical release of Meet the Fockers, omits many of the extras listed above, while adding some new features. Still on board are the commentary with director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll, the "Surf & Turd" and "Crawlspace" deleted scenes, and the outtakes reel. New to the double-dip are a second outtakes reel [6 min.], a deleted scene entitled "De Niro Unplugged" [2 min.], the polygraph featurette "The Truth About Lying" [6 min.], the animal training featurette "Silly Cat Tricks" [5 min.], and the extraordinarily short and uninformative "Jay Roach: A Director's Profile" [2 min.].)