Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo
Director: Jay Roach
Running Time: 103 mins
Meet The Parents is an American film about a man who, while attending his girlfriend’s sister’s wedding, experiences a bizarre and awkward weekend meeting his future parents-in-law, but her suspicious father makes life very difficult for him.
This is a brilliant film. Hilarious from start to finish, and with a small hint of soppy family heart thrown in there too, Meet The Parents is hugely entertaining wherever you look. Thanks to an excellent screenplay, and two brilliant central performances, this is the sort of film that all modern Hollywood comedies should be aspiring to be. It’s not necessarily the best of all time, but its consistently funny, upbeat and entertaining atmosphere makes it absolute riot to watch.
Let’s start off with what I thought was by far the biggest positive of the entire film: the performances. Although including quite a large cast, the film essentially boils down to the battle between Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro’s characters. First off, Stiller is hilarious, and his comedic brilliance really shines through in getting you to love a guy who’s trying his best, and yet still be able to laugh your socks off at everything that goes wrong for him.
His performance is integral in making Meet The Parents as painfully awkward as possible at times, but that’s exactly what the film wants you to feel, making it an excellent turn throughout. However, even better than Ben Stiller, the real stand-out from this whole film is Robert De Niro.
In what is easily the best purely comedic performance of his whole career (discounting The King Of Comedy in that bracket), De Niro plays an intense ex-CIA agent who scrutinises Ben Stiller’s character to oblivion to make sure that he’s right for his daughter. The sheer weirdness of some of the things that De Niro does is brilliant in itself, but it’s the way that he manages to make an infuriating enemy to Ben Stiller still an interesting and important character.
Rather than simply trying to sabotage everything Stiller does, De Niro is always calm and composed throughout the film, on the one hand making him an impressively collected person, but on the other further angering you as he seems to be getting the upper hand with almost no effort whatsoever. His intense performance makes the relentless duel between the two leads enthralling and absolutely hilarious from start to finish, and that is exactly why this film works so well.
Beyond the performances, there is still a lot more to praise. The screenplay in particular is very good. The two lead actors bring some brilliantly-written characters to life, but the screenplay as a whole features a consistent scream of jokes and gags, as well as the odd moment of emotional drama to make everything seem a little more meaningful.
And it’s that that just tips this film from hilarious comedy to great film. Sure, the main objective of Meet The Parents is laughs galore, and it achieves that spectacularly, but the small moments of drama are very well-placed and utilised to give you that extra level of interest, all coming together to make one of the most entertaining comedies you’ll ever see, and that’s why I’m giving Meet The Parents an 8.1 overall.