Normally, I wouldn’t be that into a film like Meet the Parents. I’d find it crude, baseless, and not worth the time it would take to watch it. Normally, I’d be right. But this is a surprisingly effective film at what it does. It doesn’t go right for the gutter or the muddy ditch by the side of the road for its humor, it keeps it focused in the way most of the other comedies I’ve reviewed so far on the list have failed to do.
Jay Roach handles his material very well, keeping a good measure between the style of comedy and the story being told. Gags are aplenty, and are well structured for the most part; there are hits and there are misses that cause a few groans, at least for me. The tension is ever-present, as it should be, and it becomes incredibly humorous as the film goes on. The cast are all equally effective, none more so than the two male leads: Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro. De Niro in particular does a great job for a film that, at the time, was a rare departure from his established career moves; so much so that it seems to have negatively affected the rest of his career afterwards.
As in most comedies, the nuts and bolts are there mostly as glue to hold the comedy bits together, and the film is well made if not overly phenomenal as a result. It’s the humor that of course takes center stage, and thankfully you won’t have to cringe whenever you can feel another bit coming up. I don’t know if I’d call this a must see before you die, but it’s a well done picture than manages to succeed where so many other comedies over the years (especially modern ones) have failed.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10