Here’s a question. What’s Barbra Streisand’s worst movie? Or Dustin Hoffman’s? Or Robert De Niro’s? How about Harvey Keitel? It’s a trick question. Here’s a hint: It’s just one movie. Another hint? It’s a sequel and it’s in theatres right now. Enough hints. It’s “Little Fockers,” the third in a series of movies about a male nurse named Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his overly suspicious father-in-law (De Niro).
In this outing Greg, now moonlighting as a pharmaceutical salesman, must prove to Jack (De Niro) that he isn’t fooling around on Pam (Teri Polo) and is worthy to be the patriarch or Godfokker of the whole family.
“Little Fockers” is an interesting study in what passes for a successful comedy franchise these days. Its producers must be hoping that familiar faces and situations will equal laughs and big box office. They’re probably half right. The Focker mix likely will garner big returns at the box office, but the laughs aren’t there. Three movies in the ideas seem to have run out. Instead of the freshness of the first movie, we’re treated warmed over jokes, innuendo, a series of misunderstandings and the only enema-flirtation scene to ever appear in a Streisand movie. There is the odd laugh and a few giggle worthy scenes but they are few and far between.
It’s ram packed with big stars—even if one of them, Harvey Keitel, seems to only be there to add some heft to the marquee—but to be fair no one is doing their best work. Jessica Alba seems to be having fun playing a wild-child pharmaceutical rep but most of the other performances have a been-there-done-that feel, as if the movie was strung together from outtakes from the past Focker films. We also seem to have reached the self parody stage of De Niro’s career. Please Robert, if there is a fourth movie, no more Godfokker jokes!
“Little Fockers” is proof positive of the sequel law of diminishing returns. It might be time for these Fockers to Fock Off.