CUT IT OUT ALREADY
How much “Meet the Fockers” do we really need?
Even its director admits that the new, extended cut of the Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller hit comedy, out today on DVD, is “very indulgent.”
“It was long for a comedy in the first place,” says Jay Roach of the original 115-minute theatrical cut.
Extended versions are a burgeoning trend in DVDs, with virtually every youth-oriented comedy √≥ “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” among them √≥ being offered in a longer, “unrated” version.
“I have always called this the indulgent cut,” Roach says of the new, eight-minute-longer version. “It’s very presumptive to think people will want to watch more.”
Nevertheless, he says, there were “literally hours and hours” of extra material, because co-stars Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand “can improv like crazy.”
Unfortunately, those aren’t the scenes that made it into the longer cut √≥ though some of them are included in 12 or so additional minutes of deleted scenes not included in the extended version.
Restored instead is a scene where Stiller presents Hoffman with a “World’s Best Dad” trophy √≥ and Hoffman responds by saying “I’m sorry if I’m been a little smothering for the first 36 years of your life.”
Other additions expand the role of Tim Blake Nelson, briefly seen in the theatrical cut as a state trooper who arrests the elder Fockers.
Nelson is now seen interrogating the Fockers and finding a cache of sex-instruction tapes in their car trunk. (Streisand’s Roz Focker is a sex therapist.)
“It made me howl, but we needed to pick up the pace a bit,” Roach says of deleting the scene originally.
With a few exceptions √≥ like the longer, DVD release of “Ray” that some critics thought was superior to the theatrical cut √≥ most extended versions aren’t worth the extra time you spending watching them.
“Really, what I saw of ‘Meet the Fockers’ was plenty,” says Time magazine critic and film historian Richard Schickel. “I wonder if many of these so-called director’s cuts are just a way to market a video twice.”
Schickel supervised an extended version of Sam Fuller’s 1980 World War II drama “The Big Red One,” which will be released next month by Warner Home Video. “It’s pretty rare when you can find and restore 50 minutes of a film, which was butchered by the studio,” he said.
But DVDs give studios huge incentives to scour their vaults.
The recent DVD release of the 1944 thriller “Laura” included a lengthy fashion- oriented montage cut from the original release because studio bosses thought it was too “decadent” during World War II.
Later this year, Sony Home Video will offer a new version of Sam Peckinpah’s 1966 Charlton Heston Western “Major Dundee” that not only adds 12 minutes of cut footage, but also a new score more in keeping with the late director’s wishes.
CUT IT OUT ALREADY