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Movie Review

Meet the Parents

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug references and language

Reviewed by: Halyna Barannik

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 6, 2000 (wide)
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller in “Meet the Parents”

Lying in the Bible


Brides in the Bible

Marriage in the Bible

Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
Many people are convinced that traditional marriages don’t work and that this practice should be abandoned. What does the Bible say about marriage?

GUIDELINES—What are the biblical guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

ANXIETY, FEAR AND WORRY—What does the Bible say? Answer

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, James Rebhorn
Director: Jay Roach
Producer: Jay Roach, Nancy Tenenbaum, Jane Rosenthal
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“He finally met the girl of his dreams. Too bad her dad’s a nightmare.”

“Meet the Parents” has been the hit that it has been at theaters because it is a truly funny movie. It is chock full of comedy that has roots in slapstick, where what can go wrong does go wrong, and where people make fools of themselves and survive to smile about it.

The lead is played by Ben Stiller, who stars as Greg Focker, the boyfriend who wants to pop the question to his girlfriend, Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) but decides he should ask permission first from her father, Jack (Robert De Niro). Blythe Danner plays Dina, Pam’s youthful and cordial mother.

The strength of the film lies in Stiller’s controlled and skillful acting of today’s cool, but sensitive kind of guy who works as a male nurse and wants to be respected. When Greg and Pam go to meet her parents, he goes all out to please. He gets the gift that he thinks is appropriate for the father, who Greg believes works with plants and is now retired. The gift fails to please as Jack doesn’t care much for the dormant bulb. Everything that could go wrong goes wrong. The humor stems from all the mistakes, stumbles, and mishaps, played to perfection by this team of actors.

The script focuses keenly and precisely on the relationship between Greg and Jack as the father tests this boyfriend in every possible way, including the administration of a lie detector test (which he happens to have in his basement). Yes, there are morally questionable, even objectionable, themes, like the apparent pre-marital affair between Greg and Pam, but it is not a focal point, and DeNiro’s obvious objection to the sexual nature of this relationship is quite loud. There is also the extensive exploitation for laughs of Greg’s last name.

This movie is definitely only for a mature audience, because of the sexual elements mentioned above. However, the absurdity of the mishaps, which are scripted with impeccable timing, makes the movie entirely humorous, with not a dull moment. Taken as a whole, the movie succeeds as good comedy. It, also, has some positive messages, namely, Greg’s wish to do right despite all adversity, and Jack’s best wishes for his daughter and his ultimate concern for her welfare. It is unfortunate that there are some immoral elements, but they are overshadowed by the comedy.

Reviews of other films in this series:

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
I went to this movie after reading the reviews and expected a somewhat offensive movie. However, I felt that this was a great movie. I enjoyed it immensely. However, there were some swear words, which was offensive. And premarital sex was also suggested in the movie which is definitely not acceptable. I feel that this movie is okay for mature audiences, but I would not take a young child to it. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Jolene, age 18
This movie has the potential to offend… There are references to sex, and having to withold from sex while in “daddy’s house.” This movie might be offensive because of the constant repeat of the character’s last name to intentionally sound crude. …I recommend this movie for its humor, and lack of “junk” as far as the “typical Hollywood movie” goes anymore. This movie should be viewed under parental supervision. My Ratings: [3½/4]
—Mrs. Cone, age 21
I went to see this movie with my 18 year old daughter. We were both very offended by the crudeness in the movie and left when the ashes of the grandmother were spilled and the cat decided to make use of the ashes. We had just been tolerating the movie to that point—although we found the main character’s last name offensive and the number of times they made a play on that name tiresome, along with other humor being very crude. I find it difficult to understand how a Christian can find this movie as clean and funny. My Ratings: [1/2]
—Cheri Gardner, age 47
What an outstanding movie! Hilarious, well-scripted, brilliantly acted… DeNiro and Stiller deserve Oscar nods—and I agree that people who are offended by someone of another religion not knowing how to say a Christian prayer are just being incredibly intolerant and racist.
—Kevin Christian, age 25
This was SUCH a funny movie! I can’t remember the last time I went to a film when there was so much howling going on in the theatre. It’s definitely for adults, but I didn’t find it offensive. DeNiro is hysterical and I think every married person can relate to the main character’s valiant attempt (and miserable failure) at trying to impress the future in-laws. I rarely attend movies anymore because of the offensive content and horrific language. This was a fun surprise. I will probably buy it when it comes out on video. My Ratings: [3/4½]
—S. Vought, age 38
Since there was no official rating in your site for this movie, we went by what other “Christian” viewers said about it. The majority seemed to think the movie was hilarious and incredibly good. Only one person really spoke negatively. So we went. For the most part we found the movie disgusting. For us it was offensive. I’m so glad my teenage son wasn’t along. The movie degraded morality. No one in the audience found it hilarious. In fact, there were only a few chuckles here and there. The occasional gasps told me others were also offended. I would not recommend this movie to anyone. My Ratings: [2/3]
—Betsy, age 58
This was just plain fun! My wife and I went to see it with another Christian couple and we all thought is was a clever, funny and particularly clean for Hollywood. Nothing really horrible in this film. My wife is much more sensitive than I am about offensive language, and even she thought it was acceptable. If you can tolerate a little pun (the guys last name was Foker and his first name was Gaylord—hence, Gay Foker) then you will find this movie well worth the 7 bucks. I have not laughed out loud at a movie so much in ages! Go, and prepare to have a great time. My Ratings: [3½/4]
—Devin, age 36
This film is clever, extremely funny, and even sweet-natured from beginning to end. There’s nothing that would offend most Christian adults. One problem with some of these posts, though: How could you possibly be offended by a Jewish person stumbling through a prayer at a Christian home? …He had good intentions; it was obvious he meant no disrespect. Why would he know how to say a Christian prayer?…
—Brett and Judith Simpson, age 32
I thought the movie was hilarious. They also kept it quite clean. They could have left out a few swear words and the name Gay Fawker. I would consider this movie for adults only. It was pretty clean humor. My Ratings: [3/3]
—Laurie Jenkinson, age 37
I found this movie to be dog gone hilarious. I know many people check this Web site out to see if the movie will be offensive, so let me break it down for you. The main characters last name is Focker (and yes, it sounds like another word you hear a lot in movies).

If this offends you then don’t bother seeing the movie, since this play on words is used throughout the film. Personally I went to public school, so a few swear words (mostly the network tv variety) doesn’t offend me. I rather take offense at the more sex-related scenes in a movie, and “Meet the Parents” had nothing that made me blush.

Dinero does tell Stiller to “keep his snake in the cage,” but that’s about the full extent of naughtiness. If that line offended you then go see something else since you’ll probably get hung up on it and not enjoy what was probably the funniest movie I have seen in years. (And I’m even Pentecostal—whoah) My Ratings: [3/4]
—Tom, age 32
I felt that “Meet the Parents” was an amazingly clean movie. I thought that with Ben Stiller there was sure to be some serious sexual stuff in there, but it was actually clean. There wasn’t very much profanity or violence. Overall, I thought it was a great movie. The only part someone could get offended by is the scene where Ben Stiller (Jewish) said grace before the meal. Personally I thought it was the funniest part of the movie. I would recommend this movie to people above the age of 15 because it does have some adult themes in it. My Ratings: [3/3]
—Jason Smerer, age 18
I really enjoyed “Meet the Parents” and compared to most of the raunchy comedies out there this one really isn’t all that bad. There is some swearing and a mispronunciation of Greg Focker’s last name that does grow a bit tiresome. The sexual content is mostly some heavy kissing, minor groping, and some vague discussion, but nothing I would call explicit and most of the humor isn’t too dirty (except for the joke about the septic tank).

The film is hilarious and anyone who is a cat lover (like me) will love the cat in this movie which provides some of the biggest laughs in this movie. The humor of “Meet the Parents” comes from the fact that Greg is so nervous that all he can do is say or do things that get under his girlfriend’s father’s (Robert De Niro) skin.

And to make matters worse he tries to cover them up leading to more hilarity and the message that lying can get you in trouble. One character (Owen Wilson) states that following in Jesus’s footsteps is the way to go (how many comedies say that sincerely) and this Christian character is NOT later revealed to be a louse like in most comedies.

I was so glad that this movie spared us the obligatory scene in which Stiller punches the ex-boyfriend out. Some people may have an objection to the scene where the Jewish Greg tries to say grace, but I took it more as a scene underlying his desire to impress DeNiro. Both Stiller and DeNiro are great. The supporting characters are underdeveloped, but we don’t care because the focus of the movie is Stiller trying like crazy to get on DeNiro’s good side and failing even when he does what DeNiro wants. For example during a vollyball game DeNiro criticizes Stiller for not being agressive enough so Stiller becomes agressive and injures DeNiro’s daughter and DeNiro, of course, blames Stiller for it.

The film concludes hilariously with Stiller getting accused of terrorism and DeNiro proposing to Stiller (that’s all I’ll say about that scene, you’ll just have to see the movie if you’re curious about it) “Meet the Parents” is great fun and I hope Randy Newman gets an Oscar nomination for the song “When You’re a Fool in Love.” It’s great. My Ratings: [2½/4]
—Andrew, age 24
My wife and I went to see “Meet the Parents” expecting something better than what we saw. I was very disapointed! I found it to be a very “Worldy movie” with a lack of love. The language was awful! The Name of our Lord Jesus Christ came up quite a few times and not in a nice way. I still can’t understand why the writers have to put it in the script? It hurts! The name of one of the main characters was “Gay Focker” for a start. Save your money and go see “Remember the Titans”. My Ratings: [1/3]
—Jacques “Jerry” Lemieux, age 48
Comments from young people
Oh my goodness. This movie is easily one of the funniest of the year. I couldn’t stop laughing. From the very beginning to the VERY end. It was a riot. Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro were outstandingly funny. First off, I was amused by his name in the movie. I thought it was funny. And I loved all the little things that he did that were funny to us, that weren’t funny to anyone else.

Example: He gets up late and comes in with his hair looking like a mess. One person comments, “Oh, looks like someone has been visited by the hair fairy.” Then, when he goes to leave, he says, “Yep. I guess I’ll go pay a visit to the shower fairy.” No one laughs. It’s like, when other people’s family make jokes, they’re funny. But when you don’t know them and you jump into their “Circle” it isn’t funny.

So many things like that, as well as making fun of his job, him being a Jewish person [which is done in fun, and doesn’t demean them in any way], and basically blaming him for everything that goes wrong [most of hich ARE his fault!] makes for a hillarious movie!

Some language in the second half of the film, but not much. And, might I just allude to my favorite part. I’ll say nothing except, “Airport”, near the end of the film. Go see this movie, you will laugh your head off, guaranteed. My Ratings: [2/4]
—Jason Eaken, age 17
Movie Critics
…One F-word, several scatological terms… and some religious exclamations…
…lots of adult issues and themes, so even though it’s funny, it’s still for adults only…
—Holly McClure, Crosswalk
…almost admirable the humiliation Greg is willing to endure to win the approval of Pam’s father…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue…
…filmmakers showed surprising restraint by not following the recent trend of overt outrageousness and blatant displays of gross-out humor…
—Michael Elliot, Movie Parables