LITTLE FOCKERS Balanced on Ben Stiller's finger: Robert De Niro's last remaining shred of dignity.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Until last Thursday, I was able to count myself among the few filmgoers in America to successfully circumvent my civic obligation to the Meet the Parents franchise. I say this not so much as a point of pride, but to express with crystal clarity that I am in no uncertain terms completely ill equipped to criticize this distinguished cinematic dynasty—an errand that I have been nevertheless tasked with in the form of reviewing Little Fockers, the series' third installment. I just want to be fully transparent here, and to show all due respect to a trilogy whose first two installments alone combined to gross close to $850 million worldwide—a figure greater than the Gross National Product of several small countries—because this is clearly what America wants, and far be it from me to criticize you people.

Except... REALLY, AMERICA?

The comedic dream team of Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro are (presumably?) at it again—dealin' out all your favorite laugh-'em-ups, bodily functions, and all the other highbrow shit you've come to expect from this storied cinematic collaboration. Except this time, it's ostensibly about children? Except not really? Like, at all? I don't really know... I mean, there were children in this movie, but their presence seemed as inconsequential to the plot as virtually anything else outside of Ben Stiller's wide-eyed comedic impotence and Robert De Niro's tragedy mask face. A series of half-thoughts and unresolved tangents constitute the film's "narrative": Jessica Alba, inexplicably trying to seduce Ben Stiller; the Fockers' (failed?) attempts to enroll their children in a prestigious preschool; etc.; etc.; ad nauseam—all of which serve as scotch-taped placeholders between an hour and a half of broad, unrelated gags. De Niro is still totally devoid of humor, Stiller is still the least sympathetic leading man in contemporary cinema, and America is still the greatest country in the world. God bless films like Little Fockers for reminding us that we can still count on something