Universal Home Video
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Teri Polo
Extras: Commentary tracks, Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Games, Production Notes, Cast & Crew Biographies, Theatrical Trailer, Bonus Trailers
Ben Stiller stars in "Meet the Parents" as Greg Focker. Greg is a male nurse who lives in Chicago, and has been dating Pam (Teri Polo). Greg is actually on the verge of proposing to Pam, when he learns that her family is very traditional and that he needs to ask for her father’s permission to propose. When Pam announces that they will be visiting her parents in order to attend her sister’s wedding, Greg decides that he will seize this opportunity as a time to talk to Pam’s dad. Poor Greg doesn’t know what he’s in for.
As stated above, "Meet the Parents" is very good at what it does. And what it does is make the viewer incredibly uncomfortable, while we watch Greg foul up everything. In the tradition of "Halloween", "Reservoir Dogs", and "Misery", director Jay Roach cranks up the intensity throughout the film, inserting scenes of genuine hilarity to help relieve the discomfort. Granted, "Meet the Parents" is very predictable. Every time an important event/item/person is brought up, we know that Greg is going to end up wrecking it somehow. The film succeeds by having Greg’s misfortune typically go further than we could have ever imagined, without going over the top. Actually, considering that Roach helmed the two "Austin Powers" films, it’s amazing how restrained "Meet the Parents". With the exception of one scene (in which De Niro searches through a suitcase), the majority of humor in the film relies on clever writing, well-time acting, and pratfalls. And obviously, another thing that makes "Meet the Parents" work is its societal relevance. At least once in everyone’s life, they’ve been in a situation where they really wanted to look good and failed miserably. If you want to experience one of the wackiest parts of the film, begin the movie with the subtitles "ON", so that you can make out the insane lyrics, which are being sung over the Dreamworks logo.
As "Meet the Parents" was a box-office smash, it’s not surprising that the movie is part of Universal Home Video’s "Collector’s Edition" series. The film is presented in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen>, and is <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1. Overall, the image is sharp and clear, although it does get a bit soft at times. There are one or two noticeable defects from the source print and some slight grain, but these do not detract greatly from the viewing experience. The colors on this DVD are pleasing and warm, featuring natural-looking fleshtones and vibrant reds and greens. (I’ll reveal in a moment why colors were important to the film.) The framing appears to be accurate and there is no noise of interference from artifacting or compression. The video transfer isn’t perfect, but it is definitely above average.
As with most of Universal’s "Collector’s Editions", "Meet the Parents" offers a house-full of extras. The DVD boasts two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll. This is a very informative and entertaining commentary as Roach speaks at length about the origins, production, and casting of "Meet the Parents". His comments are very scene specific and he gives a great deal of information about the untold story of each scene, with Poll offering his insights on how the film was cut together. In comparison, the second commentary, featuring Roach, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, and producer Jane Rosenthal is very dull. Once again, Roach does most of the talking, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t want to and he attempts to gain responses from the other participants. Roach takes on the role of host, as he asks questions of Stiller and De Niro, but generally gets brief responses (with most of De Niro’s replies amounting to "yes" or "no"). This may have something to do with how the commentary was recorded. It was a live session, with Roach and Stiller in Los Angeles and De Niro and Rosenthal in New York. Maybe the distance contributed to sucking the spontaneity out of the discussion.
There are two unique features on the DVD. The first is called "Take the Lie Detector", in which the viewer answers "yes" or "no" (using your remote) to a series of questions. However, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly what being measured here. Much more interesting is "The Forecaster", which offers a series of multiple-choice etiquette questions, concerning how one would react to the situations that Greg encounters in the film. Upon completion, you are giving an evaluation of the kind of personality that you have. It plays like a "Cosmo" quiz, but it’s still fun.
Now, I’ve saved the best for last. Universal Showcase is back! That’s right, more previews for upcoming theatrical releases. The "Meet the Parents" DVD has the trailer for "The Mummy Returns". It’s <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1 and is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it rocks! (First in line!) And there’s also a trailer for "Captain Corelli’s Mandolin", which is a chick-flick with a bad title.
Movies in which sincere people constantly make mistakes typically make me nervous. Therefore, "Meet the Parents" left me an emotional wreck. Yet, I must admire the craftsmanship behind the film, and yes, the movie is very funny, offering some great comedic performances. The DVD offers a nice transfer of the film and many exciting special features that give us a wealth of knowledge about the making of the film. In case you hadn’t heard, a sequel, "Meet the Fockers", has already been announced. Personally, I want to see "Meet Jinx the Cat"!