“If it is the top-grossing live-action comedy in history, why doesn’t Dan love it?!? Is he just being a Focker-ing idiot?”

The Couch Potato Report – April 23rd, 2005
This week The Couch Potato Report features some parents we haven’t met yet, some flying daggers and a birth.
I talk a lot about expectations here on The Couch Potato Report. Specifically I speak about my expectations toward some films and how my expectations usually aren’t met.
Yes, on several occasions, I have spoken about how my expectations were met or surpassed, but I must admit, you will usually hear me talking about how one movie or another was less than I expected.
And I am going to do that once again this week.
In October of 2000 a film was released called MEET THE PARENTS. It starred Ben Stiller of THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and Oscar winner Robert De Niro of THE GODFATHER II and RAGING BULL.
Stiller played a male nurse named Greg Focker who wants to meet his girlfriend’s parents before he proposes marriage.
De Niro was the woman’s suspicious father.
Through actual interrogation and mind games he tormented his potential future son-in-law to make sure he was worthy of entry into his family’s “circle of trust.”
Stiller’s exceptional comedic abilities, and the serious nature of De Niro made MEET THE PARENTS one of the funniest films of the last decade.
Even 5 years later, after repeated viewings, it still makes me laugh.
So, with that glowing recap of MEET THE PARENTS, you can imagine my expectations for its sequel!
MEET THE FOCKERS was released in theaters last December and has since gone on to become the top-grossing live-action comedy in history with almost $280 million in Box Office dollars to its credit.
I too spent my money to see it, and yes, my expectations were high.
And yes, my expectations were – once again – not justly rewarded.
In MEET THE FOCKERS De Niro and his family climb into their new bulletproof motor home with Stiller, and De Niro’s infant grandson from his other daughter, for a trip to Florida to meet Stiller’s parents.
Barbra Streisand plays Stiller’s mother, and I was disappointed when I heard she had been cast because she hadn’t made a comedy in twenty-four years.
But I have to admit that she is great in the film and the world of comedies has missed her!
Welcome back, Babs!
Dustin Hoffman plays Stiller’s stay at home lawyer father and he is the best part about the film. He is warm and caring and very funny!
Unfortunately, once you get past the film’s incredible cast the movie isn’t any better than average.
If you want to watch a movie that is a side-splittingly funny comedy, that an abundance clever writing and witty repartee, then MEET THE FOCKERS just isn’t the movie for you.
Instead, it is just a mildly amusing follow-up to the very funny – and far superior – MEET THE PARENTS.
But, MEET THE FOCKERS is worth your time, expectations or no expectations!
The Hoffman-Streisand-Stiller family are so good in this movie that I recommend it just for them. The movie lets them down, but their performances won’t let you down.
The Fockers are great, even if MEET THE FOCKERS isn’t.
So no, my expectations weren’t met when I watched MEET THE FOCKERS, but they were met, and exceeded, when I saw HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS.
HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS has a great deal in common with the Oscar winning film CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and it shares the director and star of last year’s superb martial arts epic HERO.
All three films use unique martial arts choreography with incredible wire and stunt work to create fight scenes that have to be seen to be believed.
But no matter how much it is like the other two films, HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS manages to differentiate itself due to the amount of plot twists and double crossings.
In the movie two government officers set out to destroy an underground rebellion called the House of Flying Daggers.
Their only chance to find the rebels is blind women who has some lethal kung fu moves of her own.
In addition to the superb actions scenes and great acting in HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS, the film is a treat for the eyes! That is due to the movie’s use of colours.
This is a visually stunning film that exceeded my expectations!
I have often used the words “visually stunning” to describe Nicole Kidman. Even when she appears in bad films like THE STEPFORD WIVES, COLD MOUNTAIN or THE HUMAN STAIN she is still visually stunning.
But even her looks can’t save her new to video and DVD film BIRTH.
BIRTH is an interesting, yet failed movie about a young boy who claims to be the reincarnated husband of a widow. You might remember this film as the one that received some attention last year as Kidman appears naked in a bathtub with a ten-year-old boy.
Even if she is still visually stunning, Nicole Kidman can’t save BIRTH.
That is too bad as the film was very interesting at the start, but the filmmakers didn’t seem to know how to end their movie.
The ending was plausible, but it took away the leap of faith that the rest of the movie asked you to take.
As a result, BIRTH is ultimately unsatisfying. BUT, Nicole Kidman is still visually stunning.
BIRTH, HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS and MEET THE FOCKERS are all available now on video and DVD.
LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS is the film based on the popular series of kids books by Daniel Handler. Jim Carrey plays Count Olaf in this hilarious story about three orphans who are shuttled from one relative to the next. Meryl Streep and Jude Law also star.
In THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON a man plans an assassination attempt on President Nixon in 1974. Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Don Cheadle from HOTEL RWANDA lead the cast.
SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL: THE JOURNEY OF ROMEO DALLAIRE is the real life story of Canadian Lt. Gen. RomÈo Dallaire, and his controversial command of the United Nations mission to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.
Finally next week there is the BEACHES * SPECIAL EDITION. Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey star in the 1988 drama about a 30-year friendship between two women.
I’m Dan Reynish and I will have more on BEACHES, THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON and LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, and some other releases in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!