Little Fockers is a comedy abomination, tasteless and useless to a stunning degree, with storied actors smugly collecting paychecks for sullying their careers.
I'm sure that the Actors Studio didn't teach Dustin Hoffman how to feign an obsession with flamenco dancing, or Robert De Niro how to fake a dangerously plump erection and endure a hypodermic needle to calm it down. Barbra Streisand shouldn't duet with a condom playing music with each pelvic thrust. Sensing a payday, Harvey Keitel pops in for two scenes, proving only that he needs a haircut and shave.
You can get whiplash from vigorously shaking your head at what talented folks agree to do in Little Fockers. Oh, and Ben Stiller, too.
Put it this way: Within the first 10 minutes of Little Fockers we're urged to laugh at, among other things, an enema administered with flirty undertones, a child's projectile vomiting, erectile dysfunction jokes and a turkey carving mishap turning dinner into something like Sweeney Todd.
Little Fockers is just getting warmed up, or over.
Even the title of Paul Weitz's film is a desperate lunge for a smutty gag, since the Focker children are mostly left behind. The crux of the story is Greg Focker (Stiller) still trying to gain respect from his father-in-law, Jack Byrnes (De Niro), who suspects there's hanky-panky going on between Greg and a smoking-hot pharmaceutical rep named Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba).
Andy Garcia, the actor, should feel insulted to be even peripherally attached to a mess like this.
Sure, the audience at a screening of Little Fockers laughed at the flatulence jokes and infantile wee-wee gags. They didn't have to pay to get in. I can't imagine people shelling out $10 for this movie and walking out thinking they got their money's worth.
This is a movie in which a key character experiences chest pains in his first scene, signaling the crisis that will emerge in the final reel to bring everyone together. It's a movie without any sense of narrative flow, only transparent setups for the next lame joke cycle.
Even as the movie staggers to its conclusion, it piles on the depressing possibility of another sequel. To that I say: Get these Fockers out of here.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at tampabay.com/blogs/movies.