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 Pam Byrnes: What's the matter, sweetie? Can't sleep?

Greg Focker: No, no. I was just going over my answers to the polygraph test your dad just gave me.

Meet The Parents is a 2000 Kafka Komedy that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It starred Ben Stiller as Greg Focker, Terri Polo as Pam, and Robert De Niro as Pam's dad Jack. It led to two sequels: Meet The Fockers in 2004, and Little Fockers in 2010.

Meet The Parents -- Male nurse Gaylord "Greg" Focker attempts to propose to his schoolteacher girlfriend Pam Byrnes, but before he can, Pam gets invited to her sister's wedding. Greg agrees to go along, seeing it as an opportunity to impress her family. However, Pam's Knight Templar Father Jack, an ex-CIA operative, is immediately suspicious of Greg and spends the weekend grilling him on any undesirable elements in his background.

Greg's situation is further complicated by a series of attempts to impress Pam's family backfiring on him, mostly involving little lies that lead to bigger ones until he looks like a complete jackass. It escalates to the point where he gets kicked out of the Byrnes' home. Ultimately, Pam manages to convince her father that she loves Greg and despite the bad first impression it was all because he loves her. After another grilling session, Jack's contempt for Greg dissipates... for the most part.

Meet The Fockers -- In a reversal of the first film, Pam and her parents join Greg in meeting his parents, Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand respectively), before Greg and Pam get married. While Greg is thoroughly embarrassed by his parents' behavior, Jack once again is suspicious of him after learning certain elements of Greg's past and goes even more extreme lengths to prove what he suspects of Greg. Ultimately, everything works out, as Greg and Pam get married and the Fockers even help to bring back some passion into the Byrnes' marriage.

Both films, despite their success, has a Your Mileage May Vary on how much you enjoy them thanks to the Cringe Comedy as well as the somewhat off-color humor throughout. The first film was a sociopathic-based comedy with a fairly predictable premise, and the second movie is still funny with the premise moving in a bit of a different direction.

Little Fockers - Set a few years after the second film, this movie goes around the planning of the birthday party for the Focker twins, a new heart-condition found of Jack, and Greg getting a new job in order to get money for his children's education.

Jack is afraid that Greg plans to leave Pam, so he studies him. Meanwhile, Greg's new job associate (played by Jessica Alba) seems to be interested in him; and Pam's old boyfriend seems obsessed with her again.


These movies provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Kevin.
  • Aesop Amnesia: In both Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, Jack has to learn to trust, let alone like, Greg all over again.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The Fockers
  • Ashes to Crashes
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: The Fockers.
  • Butt Monkey: Greg. And how. He cannot catch a break on anything and is the subject of most of the series' slapstick.
  • The Can Kicked Him: In Meet The Fockers, the Bynes' cat Jynx (who knows how to use a toilet) flushes the Fockers' dog, Moses.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: In the first movie, Greg mentions having milked his sister's cat, but in the sequel, his parents state that he's an only child. This is lampshaded in Mad Magazine's parody of the sequel.
    • Two possibilities: 1. Greg was fibbing after all. 2. His parents also may be lying. At least, his father, in this hypothetical case.
    • Greg was indeed lying, and Jack even questions him about the story he told with his sister's cat. ("You told me you had a sister; you said you milked your sister's cat.") This scene however is often cut on television.
    • A further example, from the third movie, is the fact that Jack says he needs Greg to take over as head of the family, completely omitting to mention his own son, Denny Byrnes, from the first movie. Ironicaly, Denny's name and picture can be seen on a genealogy chart in the beginning of the movie. Then again, Jack may consider Denny a delinquent due to his marijuana use in the first film and not trust him as head of the family.
  • Cats Are Mean
  • Censored Title: Some movie reviews called the second movie Meet the F*** ers (which, oddly enough, made the title seem worse than it actually was).
  • Closer to Earth: Played straight with the Byrneses; Dina is far more sane and rational than Jack. Averted elsewhere, though. Greg, despite being a klutz, is otherwise a fairly level-headed guy and on par with Pam in terms of overall intelligence and sanity. As for Bernie and Roz Focker, they're both pretty loopy.
  • Conflict Ball: And how!
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: see above.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: With a cat.
  • Disaster Dominoes: In the first film, the cat gets loose and starts walking around on the roof. When Greg tries to chase him down, one wrong step leads to another, eventually setting his Pam's sister's wedding gazebo on fire.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Greg's real first name is Gaylord. His parents also call him "Gay". What sort of parents call their son Gaylord Focker? Hippies, of course.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Female married name variant - in Meet The Parents, Jack and his wife Dina realize if/when Pam marries Greg, their daughter would be Pamela Martha Focker. Once again, this gets called back in Meet The Fockers:

 Pam Byrnes: No! After next month, I am going to be Pamela Martha Focker. I... I know how that sounds but I don't care!

  • Ethnic Menial Labor: Meet The Fockers has Isabel, the Fockers' former housekeeper who runs a catering business. When she was working for the titular family, main character Greg lost his virginity to her. She also has a son, which leads to Jack (the father of Greg's fiancee Pam) trying to find out if Greg is the father of said son. He isn't.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: During Meet The Fockers, Little Jack (Jack's grandson and Pam's nephew) ends up learning the word "asshole" after Greg accidentally mentions the word in front of him.
  • Genius Ditz: Andi Garcia, Jessica Alba's character from Little Fokkers is permanently perky, peppers her speech with Valley Girl like expressions and would come across as just an immature party-girl airhead if it wasn't for her demontrasting that she is also a highly skilled nurse in a couple of early scenes.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Focker family name, and the titles Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers blatantly play on this trope.
    • The trailer for the first movie pronounced it "foke-er;" with the sequels this wasn't really an option.
    • Clearly, they're just related to the Fokker aircraft company in Germany. <whistles nonchalantly>
  • Happily Married: Bernie and Roz Focker, to the point that the level-headed Dinah is secretly jealous that they have such a successful sex life at their age.
  • Heel Realization: Jack has one near the end of the first two films, yet continues to give Greg hell in the sequels.
  • Innocent Swearing: Little Jack repeating the word "asshole".
  • Irony: Even though Jack is one of the best examples of a Knight Templar Parent, his favorite song is the one that exemplifies childlike innocence: "Puff, the Magic Dragon."
  • Kafka Komedy: Both movies revel in being this.
  • Karma Houdini: In the third movie, Andi Garcia drunkenly forces herself onto Greg while at his house, despite knowing that he's married and he objects. She never gets her comeuppance for it; she doesn't even get fired, despite acting unprofessional for the entire movie.
  • Knight Templar Parent: This describes Jack Byrnes to a T.
  • Large Hams: The Koshers - er, Fockers, oh damn.
  • Lawful Stupid: The airline employees, particularly the one who makes Greg wait until his row gets called for boarding... even though he's the only person waiting to be called.
  • Let Her Grow Up Dear: Pam's mom is definitely more supportive of her relationship with Gaylord than Jack ever will be.
  • Lie Detector: In Meet The Parents, Jack hooks Greg up to one in order to find out about his past. This scene was heavily used to promote the film.
  • Living Lie Detector: Jack places his thumbs on Greg's wrists as an impromptu lie detector in their last major scene.
    • Which may border on to Did Not Do the Research as using your thumbs to take a person's pulse is not correct; your thumb has it's own pulse and thus may give a false reading.
      • Some have speculated that Jack was counting on Greg not knowing that, and getting distracted from hiding other signs that he's lying. Though he'd already learned that Greg aced the MCA Ts.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: See Ethnic Menial Labor above.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: At the end of the first movie, Pam's parents note that taking Greg's name would result in Pamela Martha Focker (sounds like motherf* cker people). In the second movie, Pam confirms that she will indeed take Greg's name, she doesn't care how embarassing it may sound.
  • MD Envy: Inverted; although Greg scored top marks in medical school, he chose to be a male nurse so he could spend more time with patients. Jack and the rest of the Byrnes family (which include several doctors themselves) grill him on why he just didn't become a doctor and even refuse to believe he passed his MCAT with top marks.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: One of the plot points of the third film.
  • Mistaken for Gay: The headmistress of the school in the third film mistakes Greg and Jack for being married.
  • Money, Dear Boy: De Niro's explanation for making Little Fockers.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jessica Alba shows a lot in Little Fockers. For some people this is the only tolerable aspect of the movie (that and her being one of the few cast members who actually makes some effort).
  • Older and Wiser: Greg by the third movie, able to stand up for himself against Jack's usual misunderstandings.
  • Only Sane Woman: Dina.
  • Overly Long Gag - see Punny Name below.
    • "Are you prepared to be... the Godfocker?" "The Godfocker." "Yes. The Godfocker." "I'm not sure I like the name 'The Godfocker'".
  • Overprotective Dad
  • Papa Wolf: Jack to a disturbing degree.
  • Parental Marriage Veto
  • Plot Sensitive Latch: Gregs suitcase gets lost in-flight. A suitcase is found matching the description and delivered to him (at the parents of his girlfriend). He attempts to open it but can't and leaves for the day, leaving his prospective father-in-law alone at the house. Being former CIA he opens it easily and finds it full of fetish and bondage gear and sex toys.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Ass...oooole..."
  • Punny Name: Mo Focker, an unseen relative. A conversation between Jack and Greg reveals that's not the extent of it, either:

 Greg Focker: You meet some of the... eh... some of the cousins?

Jack Byrnes: I met some, yes. I met some... Dom?

Greg Focker: Yeah, Dom Focker, that's my dad's... uh... first cousin. You meet his kids, Randy and Orny?

  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Greg gets thrown off an airplane for giving one to a flight attendant.
  • Running Gag: At the end of each film. At the end of the first two Jack views a video of Greg ragging on him via "hidden" camera. At the end of the third film Jack views a Youtube video of Greg talking about Jack at a seminar and basically Reiterating the crazy antics Jack pulled in the first two films.
  • Sadist Show: The basis of the humor in the movies is that the universe seems to hate Greg Focker. Also, his new father-in-law is a sadist who refuses to let Greg ever come out of something looking good. Even his cat is a bastard.
  • Sequel Hook: In the third film, no less. Both Greg and Pam's parents announce at a Christmas gathering that they plan on moving next door.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: The attitude expressed by Jack and (to a lesser extent) Dina after they see the "Wall of Gaylord" put together by Bernie and Roz.
  • Sequel Non Entity: Pam's sister Debbie isn't in the second film, even the wedding (though she is obviously mentioned because Little Jack is her son). Possibly a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as Debbie's actress Nicole DeHuff died of pneumonia in early 2005 and she may have been too ill to return to the role.
  • Shown Their Work: The human lie detector was debunked, due to info on the pulse. However another aspect of lie detecting was still in play. When Jack administers the test, he looks at Greg in the eyes. While Greg looks away a few moments, Jack still keeps his eyes focused on Greg's. This is based off of a popular fact that if you look to the left while answering a question, you are lying. The left side of the brain has been known as the creative side while the right side is the thinking side. Looking to the left means you are coming up with some BS story.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In one scene in Little Fockers Stephen Trask's score turns surprisingly twinkly and airy, as if it's accompanying a fantasy movie rather than Andi giving a male patient an anal insertion - Trask is director Paul Weitz's composer of choice, which is why (unlike the first two films) this was not scored by Randy Newman.
  • Suddenly Ethnicity: Amusingly played with in the third film. Jack has been studying the Byrnes family genealogy and while they seem to be mostly of Irish descent, Bernie and Roz do a little research of their own and discover that Jack is "one twenty third" Jewish. They proudly present him with a yarmulke for Christmas.
  • Tempting Fate: The second movie begins with Greg catching an extraordinary number of lucky breaks. He should've known it was too good to last...
  • Toros Y Flamenco: Spain in the third movie.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The reveal of Jack being ex-CIA would've been funnier if it wasn't stated outright in trailers for the movie.
    • They also played up Jack watching Greg doing silly kung fu moves to his hidden camera, which is the film's last scene.
    • There isn't much the theatrical trailer doesn't give away.
  • Truth Serums: Jack injects Greg with one of these in Meet The Fockers to get him to admit that Greg is the father of the Fockers' old housekeeper's son. It causes Greg to make an ass of himself in front of both families, but he wasn't actually the father.
  • Twerp Sweating: A good part of the premise of Meet The Parents was Robert De Niro blurring the line between Twerp Sweating and Perp Sweating.
  • Unfavorite: With Grandkids. Jack picks the bright (and slightly psychotic) Samantha as his favorite to the lonely and somewhat dim Henry. He claims this is because Samantha likely has more of Pam's genes than Greg's, and is therefore "less of a Focker."
  • Unfortunate Names: Gaylord Focker.
    • Pam's married name: Pamela Martha Focker.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Greg plans one at the start of the movie.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Subverted in Little Fockers. As construction is taking place in Greg's back yard, Kevin shows up in a Tesla and parks curbside. As Greg backs a dump truck full of sand out of the driveway, he doesn't hit the Tesla, but instead empties the sand onto Jack.
  • Wedding Day: Greg and Pam finally do get married after two entire movies' worth of hijinks trying to thwart them.
  • Well Done Son-In-Law Guy: Greg.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fake "Mr. Jinx" cat with the grey tip on its tail. When Jack confronts Greg about it, Greg sets the cat down, and the cat walks off, down the hallway. Its never seen again after that.
  • Who Names Their Kid Gaylord: Only hippies. Pam's brother has a good laugh when he asks the trope; "Wait a minute! So your name is gay focker? (laughs) Its an unusual name."
  • You're Drinking Breast Milk: Happens to Greg in Meet the Fockers.
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