There is in LITTLE FOCKERS barely a trace of the spark that made MEET THE PARENTS interesting. Ben Stiller as the husband and Robert DeNiro as the father still antagonizing one another over oddly placid wife/daughter Terri Polo has run out of what little steam it had left after MEET THE FOCKERS. Stiller and De Niro reprise their best bits but to no avail in a script that is thinly conceived and tediously rendered.
The Fockers, Greg and Pam (Stiller and Polo) are anticipating the 5th birthday of their twins, Samantha and Henry (Daisy Tahan and Colin Baiocchi). Emotions are running high. Samantha has taken to not speaking to her father, Henry is down to his last friend, a fringed lizard named Arthur, and Jack Byrnes (De Niro) has failed to come to terms with the betrayal of his favored son-in-law, Dr. Bob (Tom McCarthy), who has committed adultery and left his wife. Jack is also covering up a heart condition from his also oddly placid wife, Dina (Blythe Danner). A need for more funds, a tempting offer of outside income as a flogger of a new erectile dysfunction drug, and the even more tempting pharmacy rep, Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba essentially playing a blow-up sex toy), lead to a series of would-be hilarious mix-ups that cause Greg to run afoul of Jack just when Jack has decided to make Greg the patriarch-in-waiting of the Byrnes clan. The GodFocker, as it were, a title repeated so relentlessly that the audience laughs just to make it stop. Barbara Streisand returns as Mother Focker, the host of a sex advice show that regularly embarrasses Greg. Dustin Hoffman as Father Focker is off in Seville, kvetching about old sex injuries while learning to dance the flamenco. Owen Wilson returns as Gregs self-proclaimed best friend, Kevin, a rich investment banker still carrying a torch for ex-fiancee, Pam.
This is a work of unregenerate schtick rendered in broad strokes, and none of it done with any discernable energy. The slapstick falls flat; the gags are unfunny. Ten minutes along, there is the prolonged enema sequence that causes Andi to fall for Greg. Twenty minutes along is the poop joke coupled with the adorable 5-year-old saying the word vagina. The E.D. drug, of course, leads to yet another awkward interaction between Greg and Jack involving a syringe and an erection that has painfully overstayed its welcome. It attempts to trade on the absurdity of the situation to no avail what with the way it persists long after the joke is over, and with all the desperation of a drowning man clinging to a life preserver in a stormy sea. The best bit involves an homage to JAWS played out in a ball pit, but even that is strained by static direction. Everyone looks bored, even Arthur the lizard, and Jacks Himalayan cat, Mr. Jinx, in the latter case, evincing a sense of ennui that transcends the usual brand of feline diffidence.
With so few viable franchises out there, its no surprise that LITTLE FOCKERS includes a set-up for yet another visit with the family that takes the fun out of dysfunctional. The only surprise will be in seeing how much worse the concept can become before audiences take up torches and pitchforks in order to keep it from invading theaters once again.