Meet the Fockers (2004)

Rated R. Our ratings: V-2 ; L-3 ; S/N-4

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 5:16

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1-4

Meet the Fockers

If you liked Meet the Parents, there’s a good chance that you’ll also like Meet the Fockers. In the first film, Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Ben Stiller) visited Pam’s (Teri Polo), his fiance’s, parents, the uptight Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert DeNiro and Blythe Danner). This time around Greg is taking his future in-laws to meet his parents, the excessively open and fun-loving Bernie and Roz Focker (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand).

As soon as Greg and the Byrnes arrive at the Fockers Florida home, you know there’s going to be trouble. Mixing these two families would be like putting Michael Moore and Pat Robertson in the same prison cell! While the Byrnes are uptight and repressed, the Fockers are spontaneous and uninhibited. And while their quirkiness is enough to embarrass anyone who’d have them as parents, there is no doubt that they love and support their son.

Well, when the Byrnes and the Fockers meet, the typical hijinks ensues. The Fockers embarrass Greg and make the Byrnes feel utterly uncomfortable. The Byrnes’ cat flushes the Fockers’ dog down the toilet. Greg’s foreskin ends up in the soup. Greg accidentally teaches Baby Jack, Jack’s grandson, how to say a dirty word. You get the picture….

While this is basically a pretty funny movie (though somewhat crass at times), Meet the Fockers is a good lesson in how not to treat your children. We get these lessons from both sets of parents. Ephesians 6:4 says that parents should not exasperate their children. But the whole movie is about both the Byrnes (primarily Jack) and the Fockers exasperating poor Greg.

None of them are thinking about what is best for Greg. Jack refuses to trust Greg, threatening to exclude him from the Byrnes “circle of trust.” At the same time, Bernie and Roz are so unrestrained in their affection for everyone in the movie (especially each other) that Greg is continually humiliated by them.

In the end, Greg is forced to set some boundaries with both dads. Instead of being threatened by Jack’s distrust and Bernie’s antics, Greg tells them that he is starting his own “circle of trust” and they need to decide if they want to be in it. Greg has finally taken a stand for his own family, bringing to mind Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

At last, Greg has determined to claim his own adulthood.

Reviewed by Markus Watson, Assoc. Pastor, Union (KY) Presbyterian Church