Single Person’s Movie: Meet the Parents

meettheparents Single Persons Movie: Meet the ParentsIt’s 2 a.m. and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.

Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to Meet the Parents [starting @ 11:35 p.m. on HBO Comedy]

Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: The other day we made the mistake of trying to watch Righteous Kill, under the assumption that any movie featuring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino would have to be somewhat entertaining.

It’s 2 a.m. and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.

Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to Meet the Parents [starting @ 11:35 p.m. on HBO Comedy]

Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: The other day we made the mistake of trying to watch Righteous Kill, under the assumption that any movie featuring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino would have to be somewhat entertaining. Oh how wrong we were! Righteous Kill was so completely horrific that when the DVD started skipping during the final 20 minutes, we opted to turn it off without finishing. The whole experience made us very sad; what had happened to these two titans of industry that caused them to fall so far from grace? While conventional wisdom says it’s Mr. Pacino who has hit rock bottom—starring in 88 Minutes will do that to an actor—we don’t think you can sleep on just how badly Mr. De Niro’s career has deteriorated. With a lone exception, the once-great actor hasn’t been part of a decent movie in 11 years. But, like Rick and Isla, he’ll always have Meet the Parents.

Directed by Jay Roach of Austin Powers fame, Meet the Parents accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: make people laugh. This whole movie is like one big plate of comfort food. Though it’s only a little over eight years old, it feels like a relic from a long-ancient time, back when people like the Farrelly brothers ruled the earth. (This doesn’t bode well for the just announced third Meet the Parents film, cringingly called Little Fockers.) But! Even today, when everything is viewed through the prism provided by reigning comedy king Judd Apatow, you’d have to be made of stone not to find this thing really, really funny.

The idea to cast the gruff Mr. De Niro in a comedy wasn’t original in 2000—he had already done a send-up on his mafia persona in Analyze This just the year before—but that doesn’t make it any less inspired. Simply, Mr. De Niro is laugh-out-loud funny. He never overplays his hand like he did in Analyze This, instead relying on grumpy mutterings and stern glances to get his jokes across. It’s also to his advantage that he has the perfect comedic foil in Ben Stiller. Their interplay works so well that it’s hard to imagine Meet the Parents even existing with two different actors.

When we’ll probably fall asleep: In addition to the leads, Meet the Parents is loaded with great performances—does anyone play a WASP mother like Blythe Danner?—but special mention must be given to Owen Wilson in a small but vital role. At the time of Meet the Parents, Mr. Wilson was still an up-and-coming actor, relegated to 12th man status on the call sheet in various blockbusters (his Hollywood credits had included parts in Armageddon, Anaconda, The Haunting). He had received some recognition for the Jackie Chan vehicle Shanghai Noon, which was released earlier in 2000, but it wouldn’t be until after his appearance in Meet the Parents that he catapulted to stardom. As Kevin, the rich, handsome and successful ex-boyfriend of Mr. Stiller’s almost-fiancée, Mr. Wilson is a riot; everything he says and does in his six minutes of total screen time is a nugget of comedy gold. So we’ll make through 55 minutes of the film, when Kevin shows off his twin Sub-Zero refrigerators, talks about his extensive stock portfolio and tells Mr. Stiller that he became a carpenter because of … Jesus. As he says, “If you’re going to follow in someone’s footsteps, who better than Christ.”