Well chances are by now you motherfuckers’ve heard about the new hit comedy Meet the Parents. This movie is sweeping the nation. All the sudden everybody loves to laugh. It is the new big thing. People are telling their friends about it. “This is a picture where you laugh.” There is already talk of a sequel even though, I mean how in fuck do you do a sequel to this picture. You can’t.
So let me give you my take on it. The Vern take. In case you’ve been in the can or something and haven’t fallen into Parentmania, what this is is the type of picture where Ben Stiller has to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. In fact he wants to propose to the gal but first he has to ask the father’s permission. Only problem is the father is the King of Comedy himself, Robert DeNiro. Robert’s character is a crazy ex-CIA maniac obsessed with surveillance. So Ben tries his damndest to make a good impression, but every fucking thing possible goes wrong.
Okay so you’ve probaly seen the ads and think, yeah okay we know everything that happens. Truth is out of context that stuff may not seem funny but I would argue that in the movie, yes, it is funny. Because this Ben Stiller is a very special individual. He is the world’s only Human Humiliation Sponge. He will soak up any indignity known to man. And make it funny.
Really the only other actor I can picture taking on a role even half this humiliating is the dude from Friends, but he wouldn’t be able to pull it off. nothing against him, he was good in Apt Pupil and what not but he doesn’t have the amazing humilation power that this Stiller kid has.
Now before I get into it let me introduce Vern’s Theory of Comedy. I coulda sworn I mentioned this before but I can’t find it in any of the old columns, so I’m gonna go for it. FOrgive me if I repeat myself.
This theory explains why many of today’s top comics suck the fat cock when it comes to making people laugh, titter, chortle, etc. You see your Jay Leno or your Comedy Central standup, these guys approach it that they are better than everyone else, and the jokes are about how stupid everybody else is. Jay Leno finds a bunch of sorority girls on the street and asks them trivia questions and then goes, ha ha, they got it wrong, what a bunch of fucking dumb whores.
But the Ben Stiller approach, the approach authorized by Vern’s theory of the Comedy, is to make yourself look bad in the process of the joke. Maybe you act like you’re bragging or being cool but ultimately you don’t come off looking cool. And then as a result of this pretending you think you’re cool when really you’re not cool, women will think your cool, like they do with Ben when he wears sunglasses and a black leather jacket like Shaft.
You see in this movie everything possible happens to this guy. It’s not just slapstick, knocking things over and setting things on fire. It’s every awkward and uncomfortable situation possible. Losing his clothes and having to wear a teenager’s baggy sweatshirt. Trying to say grace for a christian family even though he’s jewish, and doing a really bad job. Accidentally giving a blackeye to his girlfriend’s sister the day before her wedding. Even walking in on a cat in the bathroom. That kind of stuff.
Usually in this type of movie it starts to bother me that this character is digging himself so deep. Why doesn’t he just tell the truth? It can only make things better. But I think in this one everything is pieced together just right to make it plausible. You can relate to him making small lies to cover up embarrassing things about himself. And then you have to squirm when he is caught in the lie and tries to cover it up with one of the most pathetic, poorly thought out lies ever captured on film. a great moment of the comedy.
Now I know I said Ben Stiller is jewish but I’m still gonna say it, this guy is christ like. Because in a way he is sacrificing himself, giving of his body and his dignity as a man. He is taking our humiliation for us, accepting it as his own. We can see our own jackass selves in his behavior. He is getting everything that all of us have ever deserved, all at once.
But he’s not Charlie Brown. He doesn’t just take the abuse and be nice about it. Ben is a man. The more he is fucked over the more he fumes. He tries to remain calm but you can see in his eyes that he’s about to snap. He tries to turn the tables and he even gets cocky about it, and of course he makes things even worse and more embarrassing for himself. And then everybody makes fun of his name. Next thing you know he turns into one of those guys you hear about that just blows up and goes nuts on an airplane.
The rest of the cast is also good. I’m not sure this is the best showcase for Robert DeNiro’s talents, but he is the perfect choice for a guy that can be friendly and charming to his daughter and at the same time terrifying to his future son-in-law. There is also a funny guest starring type role for Owen Wilson from the Jackie Chan movie.
I really thought I recognized the girlfriend from some tv show or something and I looked her up on the imdb and it turns out she was on Felicity. Remember last season when Ben was dating an older woman, a caterer who also happened to be married? Yep, that’s her. Good thing I didn’t know it was her I would’ve been like, you can’t trust that gal, Stiller. Don’t marry her.
I mean not that any of you would watch that show, I mean obviously I don’t watch it, I just figured… I mean I saw the ads, is how I know the storyline. I wouldn’t necessarily have to watch it every week to know that. I mean it says right there in the imdb, it says “Felicity”. That’s the only way I would know she was on that show. Not to change the subject but yes that is a very good reference sight, you guys should check it out, http://www.imdb.com, stands for internet movie database. What was I talking about, I can’t remember I guess I will just end this one then. sorry.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.