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Maybe I was expecting too much, but MEET THE PARENTS ($27) isn't as hilarious as the hype made it out to be. Still, the movie is extremely funny, so I can see why so many people responded to MEET THE PARENTS and turned it into a runaway box office success. There is something universal about going home with the person you love and meeting their parents for the first time. Usually, there is a lot of apprehension that goes along with that first meeting, which is sometimes justified. Some first meeting go very well, while others turn out to be total nightmares, which leave their indelible mark on a burgeoning relationship. MEET THE PARENTS is a comedy of errors that I would have to classify amongst the latter group.

MEET THE PARENTS stars Ben Stiller as Greg Focker, a likable male nurse, who is head over heels in love with his girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo). Just as Greg is about to ask Pam to marry him, he learns that her father is somewhat old fashioned and decides to ask for hand in marriage before popping the question. Armed with the best intentions and an engagement ring, Greg goes home with Pam to "meet the parents" for the first time on the occasion of her sister's wedding. Unfortunately for Greg, the trip turns out to be one disaster after another, which does little to impress Pam's austere father Jack (Robert De Niro), who turns out to be a former CIA agent. Even when Greg finds himself under Jack's intense scrutiny, he does try to impress his future father-in-law, but everything he says or does backfires miserably. MEET THE PARENTS has its share of inspired slapstick, but much of the humor stems from the uncomfortable situations in which Greg continually finds himself. Ben Stiller is quite good portraying the "every man" character to which the audience can easily relate. Robert De Niro is completely natural and genuinely funny as the future father-in-law from hell. De Niro's performance outshines his comic work in ANALYZE THIS, which seemed forced and artificial by comparison. Director Jay Roach effectively stages the visual humor, as well as creating an uncomfortable, almost hostile environment for his central character. The cast of MEET THE PARENTS also features Blythe Danner, Nicole DeHuff, Jon Abrahams, Thomas McCarthy, Phyllis George, James Rebhorn and Owen Wilson.

Universal Studios Home Video has done a quite nice job with their DVD edition of MEET THE PARENTS. MEET THE PARENTS is framed at 1.85:1 and the DVD features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Like any new movie just transferred to DVD, the image is very sharp and highly detailed. There were only a couple of brief shots in the movie that displayed any signs of softness. Colors are strongly rendered, however flesh tones remain completely natural looking throughout. Neither chroma noise nor bleeding cause any problems amongst the more vivid hues. Blacks appear accurate, plus the picture boasts smooth contrast, as well as very good shadow detail and depth. The film element used for the transfer is almost perfect, with just a handful of minute blemishes present. There are no problems with digital compression artifacts on this cleanly authored dual layer DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a standard comedy mix, which is strong on dialogue and music and light on directional sound effects. There is good channel separation across the forward soundstage, which provides stereo imaging for the music. Split surround sound effects are few and infrequent, but the rear channels do add ambience and musical fill. Dialogue is crisp and fully intelligible throughout the film. The bass channel provides a solid bottom end, but isn't afforded any opportunities to show off. As for the DTS 5.1 channel soundtrack, it is more of the same, only with slightly better resolution and additional musical clarity. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD. Strangely, this major studio release offers no subtitles- only English captioning.

Full motion video, animation and sound enhance the playful interface of the interactive menus. Through the menu system one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features as well as a nice array of extra features. For commentary fans, MEET THE PARENTS includes two separate supplemental audio tracks. Director Jay Roach and editor John Poll appear on track one and supply all of the technical details one could possibly want to hear about this film. Since the emphasis is on the technical side, the track seems a bit dry, plus it has some silent passages. Track two, which features Jay Roach Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro and producer Jane Rosenthal is more entertaining and humorous, thanks to the presence of Stiller. Casual listeners will prefer track two. Also included on the DVD is a Spotlight On Location featurette, which runs 25 minutes. Although a PR piece, the featurette does include interviews with the principals involved in the production. There are two deleted scenes on the DVD, which come with the option of director's commentary. The scenes are mildly amusing and were removed from the film for pacing, however they are nice to have on the DVD. More than ten minutes of outtakes have been included with the supplements for anyone who likes to watch an actor of De Niro's caliber flubbing lines and breaking up on the set. A couple of interactive games entitled Lie Detector Test and the Forecaster will provide a few minutes of amusement. A theatrical trailer, plus cast and filmmaker biographies/filmographies fill out the video supplements. MEET THE PARENTS is also DVD-ROM enabled and features more games, a screen saver and wallpaper.

MEET THE PARENTS is a whole lot of fun, plus the DVD looks great and sounds just fine. Anyone who loved MEET THE PARENTS in the theater is going to want to own this fine DVD.


Meet the Parents



DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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