1999’s Meet the Parents has been released on Blu-ray just in time for the December 22nd release of its second sequel Little Fockers. After ten years the movie holds up well. Unlike its first sequel, Meet the Fockers, the laughs are genuine and relatable. What Meet the Parents has going for it, and Meet the Fockers does not, is subtlety. The stranger in someone else’s home awkwardness is utterly relatable. Ben Stiller, in the lead role, does a great job of playing the outsider who is struggling to fit in and be polite.
Meet the Parents starts out as a fairly conventional romantic comedy. Greg (Stiller) is a nurse who wants to propose to his girlfriend of eight months, Pam (Teri Polo). He is just about to pop the question when Pam receives a phone call from her sister. It turns out Pam’s sister has just gotten engaged after a brief romance. Greg learns that the fiancé asked permission from Pam’s father before proposing, and decides he must do the same. He has never met Pam’s parents, but he soon gets an opportunity as he and Pam head up to her parent’s house for the wedding. It all seems like typical romantic comedy fair, until that brief shot of Robert De Niro looking out the window as they pull up in front of the house. De Niro plays Pam’s extremely protective father, and from the moment he peeks through those curtains it’s clear Meet the Parents is more than a run of the mill romantic comedy.
The strength of Meet the Parents is in the performances, particularly the interplay between Stiller and De Niro. Stiller holds his own against De Niro, but Greg does not hold his own against Jack Byrnes. Pam’s dad has an immediate mistrust of Greg and keeps a constant eye on him. The relentless scrutiny leads Greg into one mishap after another. Despite an increasing level of misfortune, Greg is desperate to form a good relationship with Pam’s parents. His efforts to do so make the movie. Some of the most hilarious scenes come from Greg’s attempts to fit in. Greg, who is Jewish, says grace before dinner, he forces himself into a tiny bathing suit, and he disastrously tries to befriend the family cat.
The supporting cast is very funny as well. Blythe Danner as Pam’s mom has some very funny moments, and is very natural in the role. Owen Wilson is hilarious as Pam’s former fiancé who just can’t seem to let go of their relationship. There are some great moments with Greg interacting with Pam’s sister’s in-law, her younger brother, and of course her ex Kevin (Wilson).
The weakest link is Teri Polo as Pam. It’s not that Polo is bad; it’s that the character of Pam is not well written. It’s hard to believe Greg did not break up with Pam considering her passive response to everything that happens. Not once does she consider Greg’s feelings as she drags him around to all the family events. She doesn’t seem to notice anything that makes him uncomfortable. I have never understood why she makes Greg go ask to borrow clothes from her brother, whom he has not met, instead of going up and introducing them and asking herself. That aside, Meet the Parents is a hilarious movie that still holds up over ten years later. Let’s hope the new Little Fockers follows in those footsteps.
Meet the Parents looks very good on Blu-ray. The 1080p transfer, framed at 1.85:1, is much sharper than the original DVD released in 2001. Being a character-based comedy set in mostly suburban locations, there is nothing fancy about the look of the movie. But the source print used for the transfer was spotless. The drab color scheme is realistically presented. There would’ve been no good excuse for a ten year old big budget movie to not look this good on Blu-ray.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is also exactly what should be expected from a movie this relatively recent. Meet the Parents is dialogue-driven, without much in the way of sound effects or even music. Dialogue is centered and always easy to understand. The score is well balanced, never a distraction. The surround speakers are not used very often. This isn’t the best Blu-ray to demonstrate the format’s capabilities, but it is completely acceptable in terms of audio quality.
There are no new special features on this Blu-ray. All of the special features can be found on the previous DVD releases. However, if you don’t already have the DVD, or like me, have the first DVD release and not the Special Edition, it’s nice the features were included. There are two commentaries. One features the director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll; the other features stars De Niro and Stiller along with Roach and producer Jane Rosenthal. There are also deleted scenes, outtakes, and some entertaining featurettes.