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Film / Meet the Parents
aka: Little Fockers

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He finally met the girl of his dreams. Too bad her father is every date's worst nightmare.
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.
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Meet The Parents is a 2000 Kafka Komedy that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, based on a 1992 independent comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Greg Glienna, which was not widely distributed and so is not well known in general public circles. Steven Spielberg bought the rights from Glienna to adapt his indie comedy into a major Hollywood feature.

In the 2000 film, Nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) attempts to propose to his schoolteacher girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), 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 (Robert De Niro), an ex-CIA operative, is immediately suspicious of Greg and spends the weekend grilling him on any undesirable elements in his background.

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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.

The film led to two sequels: Meet The Fockers in 2004, and Little Fockers in 2010.

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.

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The first film of the trilogy 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.

In the 1992 film, a gas station owner warns an engaged customer against meeting his fiancée's parents and spins the narrative of an advertising agent named Greg (no last name), who takes his fiancée Pam Burns to meet her parents, Irv and Kay, for a weekend and unwittingly sets off countless accidents that slowly soil his reputation with the family. In a desperate bid to regain a tiny shred of his reputation, Greg listens to Pam's sister Fay, who incorrectly thinks he has ties with Ed McMahon, sing an audition song for Star Search. To get back at him for mildly criticizing her audition, Fay accuses Greg of wanting to cheat on Pam with her, then hangs herself with a sign around her neck reading "Greg killed me". In a surprise twist, Irv's attempt to shoot Greg backfires, and he kills Kay and Pam before dying suddenly of a heart attack, while Greg miraculously turns out fine. Thanks to a YouTube user known only as Gebonya, the esoteric O.G. Meet the Parents may be viewed in its entirety here.

Note: For the trope about introducing a partner to the other partner's parents, see Meet the In-Laws.


The Hollywood film trilogy provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Kevin. He is everything Greg isn't - namely rich, successful, a homeowner, on good terms with Jack, and a devout born-again Christian. In the third film, his girlfriend dumps him after a botched proposal, and he becomes a Broken Ace.
  • Accidental Truth: When the family finds out that Greg got a cat to be a fake Jinx which trashed the family room and lied about it, Pam rhetorically asks him this:
    Pam: Now what are you going to tell me next? That you set Kevin's altar on fire? (chuckles nervously. Greg keeps his silence, causing Pam to stop smiling, and realize that what she just guessed was actually true) Oh my god.
  • Adaptational Name Change: The Byrnes family last name was originally spelled "Burns" in the 1992 film.
  • Aesop Amnesia: In both Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, Jack has to learn to trust, let alone like, Greg all over again.
  • All Take and No Give: Jack's Circle of Trust, despite its intentions, is unfortunately this. Jack expects the select few in the circle to be utterly honest, but he cannot keep his suspicions in check.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The Fockers. They Cannot Keep a Secret and have no boundaries whatsoever, especially when it comes to sexuality.
    • Jack Byrnes to a slightly lesser degree - it's clear that Pam has grown very tired of his overprotectiveness and the lengths he is willing to go to nitpick any potential suitor of hers. Not to mention, he wears a fake boob for much of the second movie.
  • Anachronism Stew: In the third film Jack uses MySpace to find pictures of Andy and Greg at the meeting, in 2010. Nobody was using MySpace anymore in 2010. This is likely due to Little Fockers having been on The Shelf of Movie Languishment for a year.
  • An Aesop: You don't just marry someone, you marry their family as well, and family compatibility is important to a healthy marriage.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Greg breaks the urn containing the ashes of Jack's beloved mother trying to open a champagne bottle. To make it much worse, Mr. Jinx mistakes the resulting pile for a litter box.
  • Baby's First Words: In Meet the Fockers, Greg's in-laws try to make their son Jack an Adorably Precocious Child before he's out of diapers, but his first word becomes "asshole" after hearing Greg say it.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Pam telling Greg that her dad is "the sweetest man in the world". Also, later, when Jack claims to be a very accepting person.
    • Greg himself is guilty of a few, especially invokedthe one about the time he milked a cat.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerise: The television airings of Meet the Fockers use video editing to remove the nipple from the tool Jack Byrnes made to feed his grandson Little Jack with - an exact cast of Little Jack's mother's breast. Considering that Jack explicitly says that his purpose for making the false breast was to avoid Little Jack having any "nipple confusion" when being bottle-fed, removing the nipple entirely defeats the purpose of the apparatus existing.
  • 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 Byrnes' cat Jinx (who knows how to use a toilet) flushes the Fockers' dog, Moses, forcing Bernie to destroy the RV toilet with a fire extinguisher to save him. Moses is later seen okay, but with his fur turned blue from the incident.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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! The entire trilogy's biggest conflicts all revolve around Jack thinking Greg is out to do no good when it's all misunderstandings and not waiting until he has all evidence before confronting Greg.
  • Control Freak: Jack Byrnes' Fatal Flaw, on top of being Improperly Paranoid, is that he needs to be the leader of the situation and only his opinions matter. The further down the trilogy he goes, the less control he has, the more stress he gets, which culminates with him getting several heart attacks in the third film.
  • Cringe Comedy: Any lesser man would have pummeled Jack Byrnes to a pulp (or would have died trying), hollered his feeling fed-up with the crap he's been through, and gone back home. Which goes to show how determined Greg is to make things right.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Roz and Bernie, in Little Fockers. Justified with Bernie, as Dustin Hoffman didn’t return initially. A deal was later worked out to bring him back, and new scenes were filmed to fit him into the story well after shooting had wrapped. Roz has slightly more screen time than Bernie does, and even has influence on the subplot involving Jack and Dinah’s deteriorating sex life. Other than providing comic relief, Bernie’s appearance is more or less a glorified cameo.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Greg just can't help himself.
  • 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.
  • Disposable Love Interest: The third film introduces Andi Garcia, Greg's attractive co-worker who is clearly interested in him. While the trope is downplayed in that Greg doesn't reciprocate her feelings, Andi's sole purpose in the film is to tempt him, which ultimately worsens the already-brewing tensions between Greg and Jack. She completely disappears from the film after her drunken attempt to seduce Greg.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": For obvious reasons, Greg Focker does not like using his actual first name: Gaylord.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: In Little Fockers. Though Andi is knocked unconscious before anything serious happens, she still tries to force herself on Greg with no regard for his marriage or his consent. He's clearly uncomfortable, and her aggression makes it clear she isn't taking no for an answer. This is Played for Laughs.
  • 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. It is also implied with the airport security officer Norm, considering Greg's sarcastic "Bye, Norm." after Jack shows up to interrogate Greg instead.
  • 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!
  • Epic Fail: In the sequel, Jack tries to stop the police officer from arresting Greg and Bernie and only succeeds in getting himself tased and arrested as well.
  • 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.
  • Everyone 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.
    • In Meet the Fockers Roz causes Greg much embarrassment when she talks about Greg's circumcision, and shows the Byrneses his saved foreskin. Even Bernie, who's notorious for being TMI and causing embarrassment by it, thinks that Roz is taking things too far.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The ultra paranoid and suspicious Jack is unaware that his own son Denny smokes pot.
  • Fatal Flaw: Jack's hyper-paranoid humorless Control Freak tendencies and how because of them he's constantly stressed. The fact that this almost becomes a literal fatal flaw is an important plot point of the third film.
  • 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.
  • 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 demonstrating that she is also a highly skilled nurse in a couple of early scenes.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: When Greg first meets Dina, she holds out her hand for a handshake while he goes for a hug.
  • Going Native: In the sequel, the more time Dina spends on the Focker's island, the more open and flamboyant she becomes. By the climax, she's wearing Roz's loose clothes and calling Jack out on his crap.
  • 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 advanced age.
  • Heel Realization: Jack has one near the end of the first two films, yet continues to give Greg hell in the sequels.
  • Hippie Parents: Roz and Bernie to Greg.
  • Improperly Paranoid: Jack's Fatal Flaw — he would rather believe Greg (and his parents, and everybody else who so much as saw his girls) is actively and maliciously trying to do something (and put him through utter hell to force him to tell the truth) than accept that his son-in-law is just a Butt-Monkey. The "circle of trust" system is also supposed to allow for an open inter-family relationship, but is becomes apparent long before Pam and Dina call B.S. that Jack is the only one allowed to have secrets.
  • Innocent Swearing: Little Jack repeating the word "asshole".
  • Insistent Terminology: Jack always says that Greg's job is "male nurse" rather than just "nurse".
  • 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."
  • It's All My Fault: After Jack learns that his daughter Deb has broken up with her husband at the start of the third movie, he blames himself for not seeing the signs that Rob was cheating, claiming that he was so focused on Greg that he didn't pay attention to Rob.
  • 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.
    • The Lawful Stupid airline employees that Greg had to put up with in the first film.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Jack clearly disliked, bullied, and had many unfounded suspicions about Greg, not all of it was unjustified. Greg did unwittingly cause a lot of property damage, and a lot of trouble for the family, and always lied about it, or made excuses, rather then simply fess up, apologize, and try to make amends. Even Dina and Pam couldn't argue with Jack that this was disgraceful, and sided with Jack, when he finally threw Greg out. On the other side of the coin, Jack claimed if Greg had simply been honest about everything, he would've been completely accepting of him.
  • 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. Though 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, which even his own wife and daughters admit.
  • 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, though he gets off pretty damn light for drugging Greg with sodium pentothal, a barbiturate used in lethal injections.
    • 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. In the second however, Dina mentions that he was sent to military school, so it seems that karma caught up with him off-screen.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Jack, who dotes on Jinx like crazy. The "kindhearted" part is extremely debatable to say the least, though.
  • Knight Templar Parent: This describes Jack Byrnes to a T.
  • Lactating Male: Discussed in the first film. Greg thinks any non-human animal can be milked regardless of sex, as long as it has nipples. Jack Brynes sarcastically asks Greg if he can milk him, since male humans have nipples too.
  • 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.
    • The redneck cop in the second film. He is following the standard list of what to do if an officer pulls someone over and the driver turns hostile—the problem being that this means he won't listen to what Jack, Greg or Bernie have to say when they try to explain themselves and pretty much brutalizes them when they turn "uncooperative" (which is when they try to insist and raise their voices, otherwise remaining peaceful).
  • 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 (it sounds like "motherfucker"). In the second movie, Pam confirms that she will indeed take Greg's name, she doesn't care how embarrassing it may sound.
  • M.D. 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.
  • Meeting-the-Parents Sequel: Inverted. The first one is about meeting the parents. The premise is recycled in Meet the Fockers and has the girl meeting the guy's parents, but the plot drifts in a slightly different direction, with slightly less focus on the parents. Little Fockers throws out the meeting the parents thing altogether (mostly because we've already met both sets of parents) and is about the main couple's kids being little Bratty Half-Pints and Greg's problems at work.
  • Military Alphabet: Jack uses this when talking to his CIA contacts.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: One of the plot points of the third film.
  • Mistaken for Gay: The headmistress of the elite preschool in the third film assumes Greg and Jack are a couple.
  • 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.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Jack is exposed as this in the climax of the first movie when, after being presented with evidence that Greg wasn't lying about his grades and ability to become a doctor, he immediately latches on to another reason for why he's not suitable. Pam and Dina immediately call bullshit, as it's clear by that point that Jack is just searching for any reason not to accept him.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jessica Alba shows a lot in Little Fockers.
  • Not Under the Parents' Roof: Greg and his fiancee Pam are staying with her parents, Jack and Dina. After a disastrous first day, they are just about to have sex in her room, only to be interrupted when Jack and Dina knock at the door. They're there to say not to worry about the events of the day... and to inform Greg that he will be sleeping downstairs in the den. As Dina is leaving, Jack casually informs Greg that while he realizes the two of them have probably had "premarital relations", while they're under his roof it's his way or the Long Island Expressway.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • Many of Greg's problems with Jack come from Jack jumping to erroneous conclusions based on limited information; he assumes Greg is giving Pam fetish clothes when he examined a suitcase that was sent to Greg by mistake, he believes Greg didn't take the MCATs but in reality Jack's contacts didn't find Greg's marks because Greg took the tests under his legal name of Gaylord, etc.
    • In the third film, Andi gets drunk and tries to force herself on Greg, but he rejects her. Jack arrives, planning to apologize to Greg for their earlier falling out, but gets the wrong idea when he sees them from afar.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Different types: the Fockers are of the "so embarrassing to be around that they feel like a plague" type, while the Byrnes are of the "make your life hell via constantly point out any little flaws you have" type, with Jack being the exaggerated version of that, that being "Personal version of Big Brother Is Watching You".
  • Older and Wiser: Greg by the third movie, able to stand up for himself against Jack's usual misunderstandings.
  • Only Sane Man: Dina'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: Jack. When he's finally called out on his crap, Pam points out that every man she's ever dated was highly nervous when they were around her after meeting him.
  • Papa Wolf: Jack to a disturbing degree.
    • Bernie Focker when he finds out that Jack drugged Greg with truth serum.
  • Parental Marriage Veto
  • Parent-Preferred Suitor: Deconstructed in the first movie; Jack constantly compares Greg to Pam's ex, Kevin, treating Kevin like a close friend and The Ace. He is later called out on this by the others, as Jack apparently only remotely started liking Kevin after he and Pam split, outing him as merely an Overprotective Dad who doesn't think anyone is good enough for his daughter.
  • 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.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In the third movie, Greg's daughter tells Jack that Andi "gives him his boners" (she actually works for a company that makes male enhancement pills), causing Greg to be Mistaken for Cheating by Jack.
  • 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. He ended up being added via reshoots
  • 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.
    • Jack also gets this from Pam and Dina after they realise he's just been looking for excuses to kick Greg out, and from Greg himself when he shows up at the airport. In all cases, he's basically being called out on being an overbearing Control Freak Overprotective Dad.
  • 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.
    • People (usually Jack) taking pot shots at Greg for being a male nurse. Even Kevin gets in on it in a backhanded way when he equates nursing with volunteer work.
  • 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 seems to delight in making Greg look bad.
  • Safe Word: In Meet the Fockers, Dina has "Muskrat," as a message for Jack to ease up.
  • 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.
  • Serial Homewrecker: Little Fockers has Greg's co-worker Andi. She's fully aware that Greg is married with children, yet constantly tries to discreetly tempt him without any regard for this. When Greg falls out with Jack and the others, Andi jumps at the opportunity to seduce him, though Greg turns her down.
  • 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.
    • Greg and Jack listen to "Puff the Magic Dragon", and Greg brings up the common reading of it as a weed metaphor. Jack is unimpressed.
      Greg: Some people think that to "puff the magic dragon" means to smoke a marijuana cigarette.
      Jack: Well, Puff's just the name of the boy's magical dragon. Are you a pothead, Focker?
  • 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 thinking side while the right side is the creative side, but they each control the opposite side of the body. 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...
  • Static Stun Gun: Subverted in Meet the Fockers. Greg is tased by a sheriff and falls to the ground, but it turns out he is still conscious and the sheriff needs to tase him repeatedly.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Averted with Isabel's son, Jorge and Greg as it turns out he's not the real father. Its still uncanny though.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Greg finally snapping and telling off the annoying flight attendant ends with a hard cut to him getting dragged off the plane back through the airport by security guards, and only Jack showing up and pulling rank is able to save him from getting hit with a slew of criminal charges. Even before The War on Terror and the creation of The TSA, aggressive and threatening behavior on an airplane was not taken lightly.
  • 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 Dumb to Live: Even though the film takes place in the pre-9/11 era (barely) and Greg was at the end of his rope, saying "bomb" on an airplane was pretty stupid on his part.
  • Too Much Information: Practically everything Greg's parents say.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Let's just say that by the third film, Jack has in a way completely lost several redeemable and justifiable traits he's had from the first film and easily could be considered the villain of the film series.
  • 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.
  • The Unfavorite: 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."
  • 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 settled 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.
  • Well Done Son-In-Law Guy: Greg.
  • Wham Line: A subtle one... During the What the Hell, Hero? scene with Jack, Pam and Dina, after Pam walks out says a lot, including the fact that even the adored Kevin had difficulties while dating Pam.
    Dina: You only even warmed up to Kevin after she broke up with him!
  • 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. It's 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 over-protectiveness 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) It's an unusual name."
  • You're Drinking Breast Milk: Happens to Greg in Meet the Fockers.


The 1992 independent film provides examples of:

  • Ashes to Crashes: On Sunday night, Greg and Pam debate over whether to stay one more night when Greg's car has broken down while in the room with the ashes of Irv's mother Penny. Greg closes the door strongly enough when they walk out to send Penny's picture falling off the wall and breaking the urn.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with the gas station owner telling a different customer to "turn around" from wherever he is going and proceeding to tell a tale about a man in a situation similar to that customer’s with an outcome the owner calls "tragic".
  • Butt-Monkey: Greg. It's not really his fault that all these horrible accidents happen. He's not malevolently trying to ruin the weekend. Though the Burns family acknowledges this and is willing to forgive the first few accidents, their forgiving attitude wanes over the film.
    • On a fishing boat, Irv asks Greg if he broke his Victrola the previous night, and Greg admits that he broke the crank handle while attempting to turn it and hid it under the sofa. Irv gives no further comments.
    • When Greg closes a door that causes a picture of Irv's mother, Penny, to fall onto an urn containing her ashes, a look of complete shock overcomes Irv's face. Again, he remains coldly silent on the matter at dinner. Greg has really crossed the line now.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Fay. Greg wants to end the weekend on a positive note by praising Pam's signing audition. She begs him for criticism until he finally caves in and says she needs more lessons. She goes into full rage mode, declaring that she is already talented enough and won't give up on her dream, then accuses Greg of wanting to bed her and frames him for her suicide.
  • Con Man: The video store employee played by producer Emo Philips in his Creator Cameo is a cuddlier example of this. He cheerfully states that every film his various customers want to rent is "his favorite" to guarantee rentals, including Greg's renting of "The Country Doctor", a seemingly family friendly film that turns out to be the only slasher porno ever to star Andy Griffith. It's nothing personal, really—he only does this to keep his job, not because he wants to ruin Greg's reputation.
  • Creator Cameo: Producer Jim Vincent appears as the gas station owner, while producer Emo Philips appears as a video store employee.
  • Driven to Suicide: Fay hangs herself after Greg tells her that she needs more singing lessons. To be fair, though, she did try to force criticism out of him despite his attempts to shower her with compliments and regain trust with the Burnses.
  • Fat Bastard: Pam's brutish, obnoxious, beer-bellied ex-boyfriend Lee, who challenges Greg to a fight.
  • Hypocrite: Irv. The family church's priest preaches in a Sunday sermon that parents should show forgiveness towards their children (and children-in-law), referencing Jesus' famous parable of the Prodigal Son. Contrary to what this priest teaches, Irv becomes increasingly unwilling to extend this courtesy to Greg. Greg sheepishly looks at him during the sermon to call attention to this talking point, but he just glowers back.
    • Also Fay, who's ferociously determined to get suggestions for improving her singing voice from Greg (who in turn is no expert on the matter) yet explodes in rage over Greg innocently saying she needs more lessons.
  • Kafka Comedy: Described by critics as the ultimate worst-case scenario comedy. As stated in the film's tagline, "Into each life, some rain must fall. Greg better build an ark.".
  • Karma Houdini: According to the gas station owner, while we never see where Irv's bullet intended for Greg lands after he fires his gun, Greg literally dodged two bullets that killed Kay and Pam and escaped being punished for Fay's suicide after Irv dropped dead of a heart attack on the stairs.
    • Justified here because, with no witnesses left alive, no evidence ties Greg to the suicide. Fay's suicide message, "Greg killed me", doesn't even reveal his last name, and Greg is a fairly common male name in the Anglophone world; hence, if the police were to investigate the house and find Fay's corpse, they would have no way of knowing which of the many Gregs in existence would be responsible. It's also possible that, with no one left alive to stop him, Greg disposed of Fay's sign, if not her body altogether…
  • Mama's Boy: Irv loves his late mother Penny so much that he still keeps an urn containing her ashes in a private room in his house. He often talks to the urn and sometimes puts on it a hat Penny likely wore in life. As a result, he is mildly upset by Greg using the phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned” and gravely offended when Greg closes a door that causes her photo to fall onto the urn, shattering it.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Fay will stop at nothing to get Greg to listen to her singing audition and stubbornly believes he has ties with Ed McMahon despite telling her over and over that he only wrote a commercial for him without ever meeting him. She finally succeeds when Greg has crossed the line one too many times and is clinging on to what little dignity he has left.
    • On the first night, she offers Greg marijuana before going to bed. Greg refuses, and she plants two joints in his travel bag in case he changes his mind. This puts him at odds with Irv the next morning, who tells him to keep marijuana outside the house even though Greg insists the joints aren't his.
    • To get back at Greg for criticizing her singing audition, she accuses Greg of wanting to sleep with her to help her get on Star Search, then hangs herself and pins the blame for her misery on him.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Believing Greg is responsible for Fay's suicide, Irv, who has had enough of Greg's mishaps, quickly grabs his gun and charges after Greg just before the poor young man can walk out of the house. He ends up shooting his wife and daughter instead.
  • No Full Name Given: Greg's last name is never revealed, perhaps to present him as ethnically ambiguous as possible so anyone who's ever felt like they've had an unlucky streak can relate to his situation.
  • Papa Wolf: Irv, to his daughters. He is initially trusting of Greg but makes a calm, implicit assertion that Greg must win his approval to be able to marry Pam with questions and comments that test Greg's morality. His trust decreases, and his Papa Wolf instincts correspondingly increase, as Greg's accidents escalate. By the time Fay incorrectly frames Greg for wanting to sleep with her and Pam believes her revenge lie, Irv has had enough of him, and he shouts, "Get out!" in defense of his daughters as Greg gives him one last silent look before approaching the front door. Once Irv discovers Fay has hanged herself, he takes things up to eleven and becomes a Knight Templar Parent by attempting to murder Greg on the spot.
  • Show Within a Show: The main story is told from the perspective of a gas station owner to a customer seeking to meet his fiancée's parents.
  • Smash Cut: Irv fires his gun, and the story of Greg's nightmare weekend ends right on cue, returning us to the gas station from the beginning of the film.
  • Troll: Possibly the gas station owner himself. Are Greg and Pam real people in this universe? Did any of the events he describes actually happen? Or is he just making up this story because he's bored and likes to amuse himself by frightening his customers?
    • It's made even more ambiguous with the second customer at the end of the film when the owner advises him against taking his kids to the circus, beginning a new story about a man in a similar situation like before.


"The Circle of Trust goes round and round..."
 
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Alternative Title(s): Meet The Fockers, Little Fockers

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Meet the Parents urn scene

Greg Focker pops a bottle of champagne, which knocks over an urn containing the ashes of Jack's mother.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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Main / AshesToCrashes

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