In Meet The Fockers, the long-awaited sequel to Meet The Parents, "fresh meat makes up for a lack of fresh ideas". Screen veterans Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand join Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro in this comedy of discomfort by director Jay Roach. Reviews were predictably mixed but a starry cast ensured it was a worldwide hit, which eventually grossed a whopping $279m. Who's laughing now?
A generous selection of 20 deleted and extended scenes boasts a good few comic gems. Perhaps the funniest of all is Ben Stiller caked in latex to play the real biological father of Jorge Villalobos (Ray Santiago). But for every funny scene there's one that doesn't work, eg an extended version of the dinner sequence where Gaylord (Stiller) knocks his circumcised foreskin into the fondue pot - this time with a few superfluous left and right turns. Even so, with this much new footage, there are more laughs than duds.
"It's the reaction that gets the laugh," says Dustin Hoffman in The Focker Family Portrait. With a serious face, he goes on to explain that, "The comedy opens up the truth about the complexity of being human." But that doesn't explain all the toilet gags... Meanwhile Stiller relates to what he calls "the pain of parental humiliation" and Barbara Streisand reflects on being just a mere actress after years of producing, directing and general diva-like behaviour. "He wasn't scared of me at all," she says of director Jay Roach, "which was really nice."
In cosy featurette Matt Lauer Meets The Fockers, Streisand and Hoffman reminisce about their days at acting school. Stiller and De Niro also talk about their chemistry together and working with twins Spencer and Bradley Pickren (who both played baby Jack). You may be surprised to discover that De Niro spent a lot of time with the twins off set to develop a bond - although thankfully he stopped short of strapping on a rubber breast. There's more on that in Adventures Of A Baby Wrangler, which also showcases the twins' remarkable fluency in sign language. Oh, and there's a handy lesson in teaching your baby to swear with perfect enunciation.
The Manary Gland looks into the research and development process behind the innovative rubber breast that De Niro uses to feed baby Jack in the movie. In other words, Prop Master Eugene McCarthy does his best to persuade us that hours spent surfing porno sites featuring big boobs was actually work. It's an off-the-wall featurette that takes a light-hearted view of the moviemaking process, as is Inside The Litter Box. Here, cast and crew line up to dish the dirt on feline film star Mr Jinx - apparently a puss that's grown too big for his boots. "He's very hard to approach," says Stiller, "More intimidating than De Niro."
In fact a lengthy blooper reel shows that De Niro is the least professional member of the Fockers cast. The acting heavyweight is constantly fluffing his lines and bursting into giggle fits, but it's great to watch. So is Hoffman getting lost inside Streisand's cleavage and his rendition of the famous rant from Taxi Driver, "Are you talking to me?" An unimpressed De Niro shows him his back!
Balancing out the ratio of fun-to-informative is an audio commentary by Jay Roach and his editor (and co-producer) John Poll. While the director offers notes on casting and other efforts to outdo the first film, Poll reminds you that, with comedy, knowing where to cut is vital. If you enjoyed the movie first time around, you'll welcome this second visit with the Fockers.