MEET THE FOCKERS Another “focking” disaster.

Meet the Fockers
dir. Roach
Now Playing
Various Theaters

How many times can a name be used as a joke in a movie and still be funny? Well, depending on the hilarity of the name, I'd wager no more than four times. And while "Focker" is a pretty funny name, it's also pretty lame that it's used--as a punch line, no less--an average of every five to 10 minutes in Meet the Fockers, the ill-conceived sequel to Meet the Parents.

Now that Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his girlfriend, Pam Burns (Teri Polo), are getting married, it's time for the uptight WASPy Burns (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) and the liberal Jewish Fockers (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand) to meet. Of course fur flies, leaving the betrothed helplessly in the middle; add in a sign-language speaking baby, a little dog that humps everything, and Greg's foreskin getting dropped into fondue, and you get setup after lame setup as the two parental units battle to impose their values on the young couple.

It is always a little depressing when a great cast is assembled around a piece of shit, and Fockers is no exception. The clashing of two archetypical families has been used on plenty of occasions as the basis for comedy, and the key is great casting. Fockers has that in aces, but director Jay Roach (Austin Powers) proves that you can have a great hand and still not know how to play it. (It doesn't help that the script, by John Hamburg and James Herzfeld, is just plain terrible.)

While Fockers isn't the worst movie ever, it definitely pales in comparison to its predecessor, feeling like something thrown together to cash in on both family holiday movie going and its predecessor's surprising popularity. Gone are the surprises, the smart humor, and most notably, the palpable tension of the original--those have been replaced with lowbrow, predictable laughs. Even worse? I hereby predict that Stiller and Roach will find a whole slew of new ways to use "Focker" in the inevitable second sequel, which'll probably be called Baby Focker or something.