A string of Hollywood favourites are back on Dubai’s big screens this week with absurdist comedy Little Fockers, the third instalment in the series that also featured 2004’s Meet the Fockers and 2000 box-office hit Meet the Parents. Original cast members Robert De Niro (Bob, to his chums), Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo and Owen Wilson are joined again by Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand, as well as franchise newcomers Jessica Alba and Laura Dern. Here’s a peek at what to look forward to.
Expect the tables to be turned.
Hapless husband Greg Focker (Stiller) took hit after hit in both earlier films, stumbling from one humiliating experience to the next, leaving in-laws Dina (Danner) and Jack Byrne (De Niro) hovering constantly between bewilderment and outrage. From claiming he could milk ‘anything with teats’ (upon which revelation he was queried on whether he could milk future father-in-law Jack) to spray-painting a stray cat to make it look like the missing Mr Jinx, Greg leaps with magnificently bad timing from one disaster to the next. But according to revelations from producers on Little Fockers, things won’t be going so smoothly this time for Jack. The man who runs the world’s tightest ship has indignity heaped onto him and is forced to face the realities of retirement.
If critics pan it, theatres will be packed. Apparently.
While praise from critics wasn’t exactly forthcoming for the last film, De Niro reveals that this doesn’t deter him. ‘They are fun to make,’ he explains. ‘They may not be perceived as good by some people, but I enjoy the process – I get into it and, you know, try the best I can.’ Sitting alongside De Niro in a press conference, producer Jane Rosenthal laughs. ‘We’ve never had a good review on Meet the Parents or Meet the Fockers!’ she chuckles. ‘Here’s the way it works: the worse the review, the better the movie does!’ explains De Niro.
Back in 2000, Meet the Parents grossed US$330 million worldwide, while sequel Meet The Fockers became the highest-grossing comedy in Universal Pictures’ history following its release in 2004, taking more than US$516 million. If this is indicative of any sort of pattern, Little Fockers could be looking at takings in the region of US$700 million, which would place it in the ranks among The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Transformers and – at the time of going to press – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. How audiences in Dubai will react remains to be seen, but industry sources point out that films by both Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro have historically done well in the UAE.
Dustin Hoffman reprises his role as Bernie Focker (just).
Okay, so you know he’s in it now, but did you know he very nearly wasn’t? Hoffman’s involvement was hanging in balance for some time after the actor was revealed to be unhappy with the original script, as well as put out over the replacement of Austin Powers director Jay Roach, who helmed the first two films, with Paul Weitz (About A Boy). Given the latter was a producer on American Dreamz, the 2006 turkey that was floppier than lead Hugh Grant’s hair, we’d be pretty wary too. Eventually Universal and Hoffman reached an agreement, and The Graduate star went on to film six scenes for the movie. Phew!
Little Fockers is out now in UAE cinemas.