Meet The Parents
Pam Byrnes: What's the matter, sweetie? Can't sleep?
Greg Focker: No, no. I was just going over my answers to the polygraph test your dad just gave me.
is a 2000 Kafka Komedy
that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin
. It starred Ben Stiller
as Greg Focker, Terri Polo as Pam Byrnes, and Robert De Niro
as Pam's dad Jack. It led to two sequels: Meet The Fockers
in 2004, and Little Fockers
in 2010.Meet The Parents
— Male nurse Greg Focker attempts to propose to his schoolteacher girlfriend Pam Byrnes, but before he can, Pam gets invited to her sister's wedding. Greg agrees to go along, seeing it as an opportunity to impress her family. However, Pam's Knight Templar Father
Jack, an ex-CIA operative, is immediately suspicious of Greg and spends the weekend grilling him on any undesirable elements in his background.
Greg's situation is further complicated by a series of attempts to impress Pam's family backfiring on him, mostly involving little lies that lead to bigger ones
until he looks like a complete jackass. It escalates to the point where he gets kicked out of the Byrnes' home. Ultimately, Pam manages to convince her father that she loves Greg and despite the bad first impression it was all because he loves her. After another grilling session, Jack's contempt for Greg dissipates... for the most part.Meet The Fockers
— In a reversal of the first film, Pam and her parents join Greg in meeting his parents, Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman
and Barbra Streisand
respectively), before Greg and Pam get married. Hilarity Ensues
and while Greg is thoroughly embarrassed by his parents' behavior, Jack once again is suspicious of him after learning certain elements of Greg's past and goes to even more extreme lengths to prove what he suspects of Greg. Ultimately, everything works out, as Greg and Pam get married and the Fockers even help to bring back some passion into the Byrnes' marriage.
The first film was a sociopathic-based comedy with a fairly predictable premise, and the second movie is still funny with the premise moving in a bit of a different direction.Little Fockers
- Set a few years after the second film, this movie goes around the planning of the birthday party for the Focker twins, a new heart condition found of Jack, and Greg getting a new job in order to get money for his children's education.
Jack is afraid that Greg plans to leave Pam, so he studies him. Meanwhile, Greg's new job associate (played by Jessica Alba
) seems to be interested in him; and Pam's old boyfriend seems obsessed with her again.
These movies provides examples of:
- The Ace: Kevin.
- Aesop Amnesia: In both Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, Jack has to learn to trust, let alone like, Greg all over again.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The Fockers. Jack Byrnes to a slightly lesser degree.
- Ashes to Crashes: Greg breaks the urn containing the ashes of Jack's beloved mother trying to open a wine bottle. To make it much worse, Mr. Jinx mistakes the resulting pile for a litter box.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: The Fockers. They're portrayed as well-meaning and friendly (certainly much moreso than Jack's family) if a little loopy and too open.
- Butt Monkey: These films are all about making poor Greg Focker actually, Gaylord as miserable as possible, having everything that could possibly go wrong, go wrong when he's meeting his girlfriend's parents.
- The Can Kicked Him: In Meet The Fockers, the Bynes' cat Jinx (who knows how to use a toilet) flushes the Fockers' dog, Moses.
- Cannot Keep a Secret: When Pam reveals to Greg that she's pregnant (and the Fockers figure it out on their own), he's afraid Jack will find out because his parents are so open about everything and refuse to keep secrets. Ironically, Greg ends up being the one who spills the beans to Jack, under the influence of truth serum.
- Canon Discontinuity: In the third movie, Jack says he needs Greg to take over as head of the family, completely omitting to mention his own son, Denny Byrnes, from the first movie. Ironically, Denny's name and picture can be seen on a genealogy chart in the beginning of the movie.
- Its clear Jack sees Denny as a disappointment, which could explain why he doesn't even consider him for the position.
- Cats Are Mean: Even Mr. Jinx seems to have it in for Greg.
- Censored Title: Some movie reviews called the second movie Meet the F***ers (which, oddly enough, made the title seem worse than it actually was).
- Character Outlives Actor: In Little Fockers Debbie is getting a divorce offscreen. Nicole DeHuff died of pneumonia in February of 2005.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The "bingo bango bongo" guy in the second film who turns out to be the county judge.
- Closer to Earth: Played straight with the Byrneses; Dina is far more sane and rational than Jack. Averted elsewhere, though. Greg, despite being a klutz, is otherwise a fairly level-headed guy and on par with Pam in terms of overall intelligence and sanity. As for Bernie and Roz Focker, they're both pretty loopy.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Greg's parents to a T. Kevin evolves into this by the third film. And Jack, in his own paranoid and overprotective way.
- Conflict Ball: And how!
- Control Freak: Jack Byrnes.
- Cringe Comedy
- Daddy's Girl: Pam, being Jack's oldest daughter. Debbie to a slightly lesser extent.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Not just Greg, but most of Pam's exes as well. There's nothing really wrong with the guys, Jack is just that overprotective
- Dead Pet Sketch: With a cat.
- Disaster Dominoes: In the first film, the cat gets loose and starts walking around on the roof. When Greg tries to chase him down, one wrong step leads to another, eventually setting Pam's sister's wedding gazebo on fire.
- Do Not Call Me Paul: For obvious reasons, Greg Focker does not like using his actual first name: Gaylord.
- Embarrassing First Name: Greg's real first name is Gaylord. His parents also call him "Gay". What sort of parents call their son Gaylord Focker? Hippies, of course.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Female married name variant - in Meet The Parents, Jack and his wife Dina realize if/when Pam marries Greg, their daughter would be Pamela Martha Focker. Once again, this gets called back in Meet The Fockers:
Pam Byrnes: No! After next month, I am going to be Pamela Martha Focker. I... I know how that sounds but I don't care!
- Ethnic Menial Labor: Meet The Fockers has Isabel, the Fockers' former housekeeper who runs a catering business. When she was working for the titular family, main character Greg lost his virginity to her. She also has a son, which leads to Jack trying to find out if Greg is the father of said son. He isn't.
- Even Evil Has Standards: While Jack has all but delighted in giving Greg a hard time from the moment they met, he cannot abide by Denny's mean-spirited mockery of Greg's legal name. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it background moment, you can see Jack soberly gesturing to Denny that his joking isn't appropriate and he needs to stop. Despite being Greg's biggest critic, Jack's even one of the few who doesn't find it amusing.
- Flanderization: Jack is a domineering Papa Wolf / Knight Templar Parent in the first film and gets even worse in the sequels. Greg/Gaylord, meanwhile, gradually becomes marginally more self-sufficient and assertive and by the third film, is almost Jack's equal in terms of being a hardass.
- Foil: Kevin, Pam's seemingly perfect ex, is this to Greg. He is everything Greg isn't - namely rich, successful, on good terms with Jack, and a devout born-again Christian.
- From the Mouths of Babes: During Meet The Fockers, Little Jack (Jack's grandson and Pam's nephew) ends up learning the word "asshole" after Greg accidentally mentions the word in front of him.
- Genius Ditz: Andi Garcia, Jessica Alba's character from Little Fockers is permanently perky, peppers her speech with Valley Girl like expressions and would come across as just an immature party-girl airhead if it wasn't for her demontrasting that she is also a highly skilled nurse in a couple of early scenes.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Focker family name, and the titles Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers blatantly play on this trope.
- The trailer for the first movie pronounced it "foke-er;" with the sequels this wasn't really an option.
- Clearly, they're just related to the Fokker aircraft company in the Netherlands. <whistles nonchalantly>
- You want to know how they got away with the title for the second film? They were told they could keep it if they could find one real life family with the name "Focker". Since they got their title, well...
- Greeting Gesture Confusion: When Greg first meets Dina, she holds out her hand for a handshake while he goes for a hug.
- Happily Married: Bernie and Roz Focker, to the point that the level-headed Dinah is secretly jealous that they have such a successful sex life at their age.
- Heel Realization: Jack has one near the end of the first two films, yet continues to give Greg hell in the sequels.
- Innocent Swearing: Little Jack repeating the word "asshole".
- Irony: Even though Jack is one of the best examples of a Knight Templar Parent, his favorite song is the one that exemplifies childlike innocence: "Puff, the Magic Dragon."
- Jerkass: Jack. Pam's entire family, in fact, except Dina and Pam herself. Even his cat is a Jerkass.
- The redneck cop in the second movie.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jack - he clearly loves his daughter and wants only the best for her, but his extreme Papa Wolf personality makes it difficult for her to have any successful relationships.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: That said, he does push it with how much he tortures and refuses to reason with Greg and his family. The "Circle Of Trust" and control-freak tendencies make it clear he's pretty difficult to live with.
- Kafka Komedy: All 3 movies revel in being this.
- Karma Houdini: In the third movie, Andi Garcia drunkenly forces herself onto Greg while at his house, despite knowing that he's married and he objects. She never gets her comeuppance for it; she doesn't even get fired, despite acting unprofessional for the entire movie.
- Jack in the first film never faces any real consequence for bullying Greg. The second film is better about this.
- You could say the two heart attacks in the third film are Jack's karma. He would at least have to learn to keep his composure and temper under control from that point onward, or risk a third, and likely fatal, heart attack.
- Denny, Pam's pothead brother, never gets any comeuppance for framing Greg for smoking marijuana in the first film.
- Knight Templar Parent: This describes Jack Byrnes to a T.
- Large Hams: The Koshers - er, Fockers, oh damn.
- Lawful Stupid: The airline employees, particularly the one who makes Greg wait until his row gets called for boarding... even though he's the only person waiting to be called.
- Let Her Grow Up, Dear: Pam's mom is definitely more supportive of her relationship with Gaylord than Jack ever will be.
- Lie Detector: In Meet The Parents, Jack hooks Greg up to one in order to find out about his past. This scene was heavily used to promote the film.
- Living Lie Detector: Jack places his thumbs on Greg's wrists as an impromptu lie detector in their last major scene.
- Which may border on to research failure as using your thumbs to take a person's pulse is not correct; your thumb has its own pulse and thus may give a false reading.
- Some have speculated that Jack was counting on Greg not knowing that, and getting distracted from hiding other signs that he's lying. Though he'd already learned that Greg aced the MCATs.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Greg's parents.
- Luke, I Might Be Your Father: See Ethnic Menial Labor above.
- The Maiden Name Debate: At the end of the first movie, Pam's parents note that taking Greg's name would result in Pamela Martha Focker (sounds like motherf*cker people). In the second movie, Pam confirms that she will indeed take Greg's name, she doesn't care how embarassing it may sound.
- MD Envy: Inverted; although Greg scored top marks in medical school, he chose to be a nurse so he could spend more time with patients. Jack and the rest of the Byrnes family (which include several doctors themselves) grill him on why he just didn't become a doctor and even refuse to believe he passed his MCAT with top marks.
- Mistaken for Cheating: One of the plot points of the third film.
- Mistaken for Gay: The headmistress of the school in the third film mistakes Greg and Jack for being married.
- Mistaken for Terrorist: Happens to Greg when he gets kicked off an airplane in the first movie.
- Mood Whiplash: Towards the end of the third film. Greg tries to present a peace offering to Jack, who looks like he's about ready to accept, until he punches Greg in the face.
- Ms. Fanservice: Jessica Alba shows a lot in Little Fockers.
- Murphy's Law: Meet the Parents is Murphy's Law: The Movie.
- Older and Wiser: Greg by the third movie, able to stand up for himself against Jack's usual misunderstandings.
- Only Sane Man: Diana's the only member of Pam's family who is remotely nice to Greg.
- Overly Long Gag - see Punny Name below.
- "Are you prepared to be... the Godfocker?" "The Godfocker." "Yes. The Godfocker." "I'm not sure I like the name 'The Godfocker'".
- Overprotective Dad
- Papa Wolf: Jack to a disturbing degree.
- Bernie Focker when he finds out that Jack drugged Greg with truth serum.
- Parental Marriage Veto
- Plot-Sensitive Latch: Greg's suitcase gets lost in-flight. A suitcase is found matching the description and delivered to him (at the parents of his girlfriend). He attempts to open it but can't and leaves for the day, leaving his prospective father-in-law alone at the house. Being former CIA he opens it easily and finds it full of fetish and bondage gear and sex toys.
- It doesn't help that earlier on, Greg mentioned having "something in his suitcase that he wouldn't feel right asking Pam to wear without her father's approval".
- Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills: From the first film, Jack finds out all kinds of unsavory things about Greg (that aren't even true), but is oblivious to the fact that his own son smokes pot. Lampshaded by Greg in the last scene.
- Precision F-Strike: "Ass...oooole..."
- Punny Name: Mo Focker, an unseen relative. A conversation between Jack and Greg reveals that's not the extent of it, either:
Greg Focker: You meet some of the... eh... some of the cousins?
Jack Byrnes: I met some, yes. I met some... Dom?
Greg Focker: Yeah, Dom Focker, that's my dad's... uh... first cousin. You meet his kids, Randy and Orny?
- Put on a Bus: The first scene we see of Bernie Focker is him taking dance classes... in Spain. It seems this will be his only appearance in the film... until he makes a surprise return home in the second half of the movie.
- Originally, Dustin Hoffman could not agree to work on the film due to disagreements with the production studio on the scope of his role... but this changed, thanks to negotiations that included a bigger paycheck.
- Real Joke Name: In Little Fockers, we are treated to the female character "Andi Garcia."
- The censors reportedly told the producers they couldn't use the name of the second movie unless they actually found a family with that name; and they did. In Canada.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After spending most of the movie being dumped on by his prospective in-laws, Greg finally loses it and gets thrown off an airplane for giving this to a flight attendant.
- Rental Car Abuse: At the beginning of the second movie, Greg gets a rental agent to admit the insurance was mostly a cashgrab. When he arrives at Jack's house, Jack, showing off his new RV, gets Greg to throw a cinder block at the windshield to demonstrate its durability. The block bounces off and smashes the windshield of Greg's rental car. Jack offhandedly tells him not to worry because the rental insurance he presumably took out would cover it.
- Running Gag: At the end of each film. At the end of the first two Jack views a video of Greg ragging on him via "hidden" camera. At the end of the third film Jack views a Youtube video of Greg talking about Jack at a seminar and Reiterating the crazy antics Jack pulled in the films.
- Sadist Show: The basis of the humor in the movies is that the universe seems to hate Greg Focker. Also, his new father-in-law is a sadist who refuses to let Greg ever come out of something looking good, and most of his in-laws are sardonic snobs who ridicule Greg at every opportunity. Even the cat is a bastard.
- Sequel Hook: In the third film, no less. Both Greg and Pam's parents announce at a Christmas gathering that they plan on moving next door.
- Second Place Is for Losers: The attitude expressed by Jack and (to a lesser extent) Dina after they see the "Wall of Gaylord" put together by Bernie and Roz.
- Shout-Out: When Greg and Jack fall into the ballpit, the Jaws theme starts playing. When Greg notices a Worm Sign circling him, a dolly zoom occurs and he starts screaming for the kids to get out of the ball pit.
- Shown Their Work: The human lie detector was debunked, due to info on the pulse. However another aspect of lie detecting was still in play. When Jack administers the test, he looks at Greg in the eyes. While Greg looks away a few moments, Jack still keeps his eyes focused on Greg's. This is based off of a popular fact that if you look to the left while answering a question, you are lying. The left side of the brain has been known as the creative side while the right side is the thinking side. Looking to the left means you are coming up with some BS story.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: In one scene in Little Fockers Stephen Trask's score turns surprisingly twinkly and airy, as if it's accompanying a fantasy movie rather than Andi giving a male patient an anal insertion. Then again, Andi is played by Jessica Alba...
- Suddenly Ethnicity: Amusingly played with in the third film. Jack has been studying the Byrnes family genealogy and while they seem to be mostly of Irish descent, Bernie and Roz do a little research of their own and discover that Jack is "one twenty third" Jewish. They proudly present him with a yarmulke for Christmas.
- Sugary Malice: The flight attendant near the end of the first film.
- Tempting Fate: The second movie begins with Greg catching an extraordinary number of lucky breaks. He should've known it was too good to last...
- Too Much Information: Practically everything Greg's parents say.
- Toros y Flamenco: Spain in the third movie.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The reveal of Jack being ex-CIA would've been funnier if it wasn't stated outright in trailers for the movie.
- They also played up Jack watching Greg doing silly kung fu moves to his hidden camera, which is the film's last scene.
- There isn't much the theatrical trailer doesn't give away.
- Truth Serums: Jack injects Greg with one of these in Meet The Fockers to get him to admit that Greg is the father of the Fockers' old housekeeper's son. It causes Greg to make an ass of himself in front of both families, but he wasn't actually the father.
- Twerp Sweating: A good part of the premise of Meet The Parents was Robert De Niro blurring the line between Twerp Sweating and Perp Sweating.
- Un Favorite: With Grandkids. Jack picks the bright (and slightly psychotic) Samantha as his favorite to the lonely and somewhat dim Henry. He claims this is because Samantha likely has more of Pam's genes than Greg's, and is therefore "less of a Focker."
- Unfortunate Names: Gaylord Focker.
- Pam's married name: Pamela Martha Focker.
- Vertigo Effect: When Jack is swimming after Greg in the ball pit. This is a Shout-Out to Jaws, which helped make the Vertigo Effect famous.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Jack and Greg seem to have setled into this by the third film. There are even signs by the second one, as it's mentioned that He and Greg went hunting together.
- Also Greg is the only person that he believes needs to know he had a heart attack.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Greg plans one at the start of the movie.
- Watch the Paint Job: Subverted in Little Fockers. As construction is taking place in Greg's back yard, Kevin shows up in a Tesla and parks curbside. As Greg backs a dump truck full of sand out of the driveway, he doesn't hit the Tesla, but instead empties the sand onto Jack.
- Wedding Day: Greg and Pam finally do get married after two entire movies' worth of hijinks trying to thwart them.
- Well Done Son-In-Law Guy: Greg.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The fake "Mr. Jinx" cat with the grey tip on its tail. When Jack confronts Greg about it, Greg sets the cat down, and the cat walks off, down the hallway. Its never seen again after that. Not that we even need to know about it after that.
- Andi Garcia in the third film; she disappears from the plot after she and Greg wake up in the dirt pit.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In Meet the Parents, Jack is called out on his vindictive overprotectiveness at the same time by Pam and Dina, and a few scenes later Greg also has a chance to put him in his place.
- While You Were in Diapers, Jack was bugging Ho Chi Minh's sock drawer (Little Fockers).
- Who Names Their Kid Gaylord: Only hippies. Pam's brother has a good laugh when he asks the trope; "Wait a minute! So your name is gay focker? (laughs) Its an unusual name."
- You're Drinking Breast Milk: Happens to Greg in Meet the Fockers.