Movie Review: Meet the Parents: Little Fockers

Movie Review: Meet the Parents: Little Fockers

Meet the Parents: Little FockersRating:  M Distributor: Paramount Release Date: December 26Have you seen Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers? This is more of the same. Depending on your viewpoint that will be a good or a bad thing. Similarly Little Fockers has some more interesting things to say about the way we perceive the relationship between […]

By Mark HadleyTuesday 28 Dec 2010MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Meet the Parents: Little Fockers

Rating:  M
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: December 26

Have you seen Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers? This is more of the same. Depending on your viewpoint that will be a good or a bad thing. Similarly Little Fockers has some more interesting things to say about the way we perceive the relationship between parent and child.

Little Fockers picks up several years after the sequel with Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) now managing a nursing unit while struggling with the responsibilities of parenting primary aged twins. As always, ex-CIA agent and father-in-law Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) is on his case about providing “… a secure home for your family, a top-notch education and getting your financial house in order.” And so the drama builds around whether or not Greg will be able to afford an expensive school for the twins, and how he will have to compromise himself to get them there.

Cards on the table, I’m not a huge fan of this franchise. However saccharin-sweet the ending, I always find it hard to watch a character being set up to fail from the beginning. That said, there are some good laughs including a very inventive parody of a scene from Jaws involving Jack, Greg and a children’s ball pool.

Also the Meet the Parents franchise continues to build itself around how integral trust is to relationships. Jack learns once again that he has to have confidence in the man his daughter has chosen to marry, and Greg recognizes for the third time he is not capable of managing every outcome in his life. It won’t ruin the plot to know that he finishes the film declaring “I in no way want to pretend that I am in control of anything in this house.” Every wise person – King Solomon included – will come to that understanding at some point. The sad thing is Greg only means that his life is not his to control. The same line in the mouth of a Christian, however, would be the beginning of a declaration of faith.

Top Gear

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Rating:  PG
Distributor: The Nine Network
Release Date: Tuesdays, 8:00 PM

We have entered that great televisual wasteland that is the curse of the Australian market: the ten-week non-ratings period covering most of summer. These are the weeks that don’t officially contribute towards which station ‘wins’ the ratings for the year, and so ironically most broadcasters feel comfortable offering viewers substandard programming because it won’t affect their audience figures overall … right? Thankfully the Nine Network is providing some quality repeats to break up the sea of second-rate American programs you’ve never heard of, the best of which is Top Gear.

For the uninitiated, Top Gear is the Emmy award-winning British series about mostly cars, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Each episode is a mix of the latest and greatest developments on four wheels as well as weird and wonderful challenges the trio set themselves – ‘Can you sail to France in a car?’ and ‘What can you do to a Hilux and still get it to start?’ to name a couple. You may think it sounds like the perfect program for petrol heads but the truth is the series has much broader appeal. Clarkson, Hammond and May regularly interview celebrities on their favourite cars, endeavour to discover what offers families the best deal and inject the show with enough raw comedy to keep even someone who doesn’t know a dip-stick from a drive-shaft laughing.

Top Gear is not so much a driving program as an acknowledgement that automobiles play a significant part in our lives. It is unashamedly playful and provides good viewing for all the boys in the house – and the biggest boys are clearly the hosts. Clarkson, Hammond and May often seem to be reacting against a conservative attitude towards safety and environmentalism that has taken all of the fun out of driving. But I’m not sure their ‘no cares’ approach is a viable response. As a parent I find you have to take into account that Top Gear is allowed to do the one thing car manufacturers and advertisers are not allowed to do in Australia: promote cars on the basis of top speeds and risky driving.