Meet the Parents: Bonus Edition

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

You’re scared, nervous and intimidated. Yes, it’s time to meet the parents. Jay Roach’s movie depicts just about everything that can go wrong about one of the most dreaded events that a human can ever endure. Everyone has parents, but what is so unnerving about meeting your future (hopefully) in-laws? For Pam (Teri Polo) and Greg “Gaylord” Focker (Ben Stiller), they find out exactly what is in store for them. Greg, a male nurse, has been led to believe that Pam’s parents (played to perfection by Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) are average and ordinary. Little does he know that Jack (De Niro) who is supposedly a retired rare plant dealer is actually still very much active in the CIA. Jack has scared off many of Pam’s boyfriends, as he doesn’t want anyone to marry his first born daughter. It’s only after that they guys have given up, that he befriends them. Ben Stiller is perfectly cast as the unfortunate Greg. Having aced the MCAT (the test you take to become a doctor), Greg has decided to forego the MD route and become a nurse. He feels that he has a better chance to interact with the patients and avoid the bureaucracy of being an actual doctor. Having only known Pam for 10 months, Greg is ready to take the plunge into marriage, but is saved at the last minute when Pam announces that their sister is getting married. Normally it’s just good news, but she announces how proud she is of her sister’s fiancé as he asked for her father’s permission first. Greg then feels he should do the same, so it’s off to meet the parents…

As I mentioned above, this movie depicts about everything that can go wrong when doing something like this and it all starts in the airport. Greg is trying to carry on a bag that is just a bit too large for “carry on” status, so he has to have it checked. They lose the bag containing his engagement ring to Pam (of which she has no idea), and all of his possessions are in limbo. After meeting the parents for the first time, things go from bad to worse. Greg can’t smoke (Jack sees it as a sign of weakness) and Pam announces that Greg hates cats (and we see how attached Jack is to his cat…more on that later). So it’s two strikes right off the bat for Greg. He feels as though he’s being scrutinized at every turn, and every answer he gives seems to be the wrong one. The only reassurance comes from Dina (Blythe Danner aka Gwyenth Paltrow’s Mom) and Pam, who have become so used to Jack’s antics, it’s now second nature to ignore them. Though the visit is only for a weekend, Greg feels like it’s a lifetime. verything is going wrong from losing the family cat, to knocking over an urn containing Jack’s mother, Greg feels like it’s better if he just lays low and doesn’t say any more. Eventually it comes down to a matter of trust. Jack has let Greg inside his sacred “circle of trust”, but once outside of that–he’s out.

Some of the funniest parts of the movie are in passing. The entire family meets Kevin (Owen Wilson), an ex-fiancé of Pam’s who met Jack at Lacrosse Camp. Kevin is so amazingly perfect it’s disgusting. Pam had mentioned to Jack that their relationship was purely physical and now Kevin has hit it big on Wall Street. The guy can do no wrong. Kevin is by far my favorite character in the movie as he steals scenes from De Niro and Stiller. He has this “aw shucks” attitude about him that drives Greg crazy, but everyone else can’t help but to love him. As things start to spiral faster and faster downhill, Greg is finally forced to leave. He doesn’t know what the future holds for him and Pam, or if there will be a future at all. While Meet the Parents has it’s share of physical comedy, it’s the chemistry between Stiller and De Niro that make it all work. Ben Stiller is someone you either love or hate, I personally love his comedy, and it’s so low key that you don’t catch a lot of the humor on the first viewing. I think he says “Oh” more than any actor in history, too! With De Niro, you just expect him to start going into one of his mafia roles that he’s become so famous for, but with his retention, he’s one of the brighter spots in the movie itself. I really can’t say enough about this movie, other than the fact that I wish I would have seen it at the theater. The DVD is positively loaded with extras that multiple viewings are almost a must. Sit back, relax and hope you don’t have to go through half the ordeals that plague Greg throughout the movie.

Video: How does it look?

“Meet the Parents” is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This appears to be a different transfer than the original disc that came out nearly four years ago. Also, my score might be a bit skewed as I was still reviewing DVD’s on my “old” TV as opposed to my new (“new” being March of 2001) TV. Still, the transfer looks very strong and actually the only think I could find wrong with it is that it seemed a bit light in parts. There appears to still be some soft parts, but on the whole it’s a very good-looking picture. Artifacting and edge enhancement are not a problem. While not too much of a noticeable difference from the first disc, this seems to be a bit stronger.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio was very surprising as well here. The disc houses both a DTS sound mix as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. I, of course, chose to listen to the DTS mix and was a bit taken with the lack of power that it had. While the dialogue is clean and clear, it just didn’t seem to pack the “whallop” that some soundtracks do. But then again, this is a comedy, and comedies aren’t really known for their strong soundtracks. A scene in particular, that stands out is in the front yard when the septic tank overflows. The rear channels have a constant hum of flies buzzing around that made me turn around to see if I left my window open! While the soundtrack doesn’t really have anything against it, I guess we’ve just come to expect a higher standard from both DTS and Universal.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This new “Bonus Edition” of “Meet the Parents” doesn’t really take the place of it’s predecessor, it’s more of a supplements to it. Not all of the features are included from the original disc, but everything that’s on this disc is on the former one for the exception of the outtakes (and they’ve plastered about 10% of the front cover stating that there are “35 All-New Outtakes”). I’ve personally never really been too much of a fan of outtakes as it is amusing to see that the actors are people to and mess their lines, do multiple takes, etc. It does add to the humor when we see a serious actor like Robert De Niro cracking up, but for the most part these wear out their welcome long before you get to “Outtake 35”. Still, this disc offers up a bit better picture than the original disc (perhaps the lack of a second audio commentary has allowed for more room on the disc) and carries over the Jay Roach commentary. If you want the extra commentary and some more features, the original is still the way to go – but if you want the movie with some supplements, this one will work. Also, and I realize this will become dated, but there’s a free movie ticket for “Meet the Fockers” (the real reason for this DVD, no doubt) included.

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