Little Fockers: dark tinge to light comedy

Saw Little Fockers this week and I must admit I wasn’t expecting it to be much good. I quite liked Meet the Parents, the original film in the series but then I thought Meet the Fockers went too much down the slapstick route; ‘too daft to laugh at’ as Brian Glover said in Kes. In this one, though, they seem to have pulled back from that and gone for black comedy again which I really enjoyed. So there was less stupid scenes chasing cats across roofs for cheap laughs (Mr Jinx the cat doesn’t even appear until the final sequence thankfully).

The film is more of a duel between the Robert De Niro character and the Ben Stiller character which works really well, leading up to a good finale where the two of them slug it out in a kids’ ball pool. It’s not just silly though; you actually care about what happens. I think maybe it’s because I’ve finally accepted that De Niro isn’t going to get back to the sort of achievements of his Taxi Driver days that I can just sit back and enjoy him in a relatively light hearted role. (compared to Travis Bickle any role is light hearted!). And there was even a few sly references to The Godfather films in which De Niro also starred when, arguably, he was at his peak. This is a long, long way from anyone’s peak but it’s fun at least.

Another bruiser Harvey Keitel also does a cameo and its quite good seeing two old buggers slugging it out on screen along with Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand. The sentimentality is kept to a minimum and Ben Stiller seems to have taken a few tips from the better stuff of Ricky Gervaise in that he maintains a slight dark edge to the light hearted laughs. I think this would have been a good one to round off the series but unfortunately there was a bit of setting up for another sequel in the last couple of minutes so they’ll probably be examining the bottom of the barrel for the last few dregs in a couple of years time. They’ll probably do it in 3D.

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