Studio: Universal (with Paramount inheriting the Dreamworks end)
Length: 1 hr 38 mins
Genre: Comedy/Ben Stiller
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
BD Resolution: 1080p
BD Video Codec: VC-1 (@ an average 30 mbps)
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.5 mbps)
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
English DVS 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Film Rating: PG-13 (Mature Sexual Humor, Language, Drug Content, Ben Stiller)
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Jessica Alba and Barbra Streisand, with cameos by Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel and Dustin Hoffman
Written by: John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey
Based on Characters Created by: Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Film Rating: 2/5
It almost feels mean to criticize a movie like Little Fockers. It’s the third go-round for this movie series, which follows the continuing attempts of Ben Stiller’s Greg Focker to get the approval of his dour father-in-law, Robert DeNiro’s Jack Byrnes. And as the third in the series, filmed about 8 years after the first one, both the premise and the cast seem to be tired. Where the first film was blatantly mean to Focker and the second film softened things a bit, the third film is content just to recycle the old motifs and patterns rather than finding new material to mine. There are some complications brought in by the presence of the two cute Focker children, particularly with Focker’s attempt to get them into an exclusive private school, but the core material behind this is the same. (I must acknowledge that the private school subplot at least allows for the one really funny sight gag in the movie, involving an obvious dummy drop pratfall.) There has been an attempt to inject a little new blood here, and Jessica Alba is appealing as an overly forward pharmaceutical rep. But stunt cameos by Harvey Keitel and Laura Dern neither contribute much nor give either performer anything to do. In the prior film, Meet the Fockers, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand were a major factor in making things a lot more appealing. This time around, Streisand continues to do what she can, but Hoffman has been awkwardly injected into the film in a way that is quite jarring. The closing scene of the film (and the only one where Hoffman’s presence feels natural) appears to set up another sequel, but one can hope that the filmmakers will think twice about it…
Little Fockers has been released on Blu-ray and regular DVD as of yesterday. The Blu-ray edition holds a high definition picture and sound transfer, along with a few special features in high definition. The package also includes the DVD edition and an insert with instructions for downloading a digital copy. Further Blu-ray functionality is also part of the package, including the My Scenes bookmarking function and pocket BLU, as well as an option for free online viewing of either Sgt. Bilko or Junior, and reduced-price viewing of other films.
VIDEO QUALITY 3 ½/5
Little Fockers is presented in a 1080p VC-1 1.85:1 transfer that is easily head and shoulders above the transfer provided for the prior film in the series. This is a very colorful movie, and the transfer handles the situation quite well. Two set pieces stand out in this regard – the visit to the private school, and an outrageous birthday party. Both are graced with large splashes of primary colors that jump off the screen. At the same time, the high definition picture may reveal a bit more than you may want to see – specifically in terms of the ages of various performers and in the amount of makeup being applied to them. I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.
AUDIO QUALITY 3 ½/5
Little Fockers is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish, and an English DVS track to boot. As with the first two films, the mix is mostly in the front channels, with the music filling the surrounds.
SPECIAL FEATURES 2 ½/5
The Blu-Ray presentation of Little Fockers comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity and My Scenes functionality, along with pocket BLU functionality and the ability to stream a free movie. The Blu-ray contains a few extras in high definition, most of which are shared with the DVD edition. I’ll indicate the two quick interviews that are exclusive to the Blu-ray.
Alternate Opening – (3:36, 1080p) An alternate opening to the film is presented, involving Greg Focker’s nightmare vision of his wedding to Pam. I believe this was the original opening of the film, done before the reshoots last fall. As such, it features Owen Wilson’s Kevin in the key role he plays in the film. (In the second film,he only appeared at the wedding to close the film.)
Alternate Ending – (3:15, 1080p) An alternate “treehouse ending” for the film is presented here, involving Kevin and Greg’s gift to the kids and a final gag about Kevin’s continuing obsession with Pam. This was the original ending before the reshoots and the inclusion of Dustin Hoffman allowed for a more satisfying family ending.
Deleted Scenes – (14:19 Total, 1080p, AVC encode) A series of 10 scenes and extensions are presented here. A couple of these provide additional material between Ben Stiller and Harvey Keitel’s contractor, which would have made a later confrontation by DeNiro redundant. Other scenes provide interactions between Laura Dern and Owen Wilson that give her a little more to do, but without adding anything essential to the story. And there’s even a deleted scene with Dustin Hoffman and DeNiro, showing that not everything in the reshoots made it into the film.
Gag Reel – (7:02, 1080p, AVC encode) A gag reel of blown takes is presented here, usually showing Ben Stiller cracking up on camera. In a few cases, Stiller and DeNiro manage to break each other up for repeated takes.
The Making of a Godfocker – (15:04, 1080p) This is the typical promotional featurette, complete with on-set B-roll footage and happy interviews with Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, producer Jay Roach, director Paul Weitz and some of the other cast members. We see multiple shots of Paul Weitz laughing from the director’s chair on the set. Of course, the featurette does not acknowledge the reshoots, nor does it acknowledge the late inclusion of Dustin Hoffman into the project, which might have explained the disjointed nature of the film better than the mutual compliments we see here.
Bob and Ben – (4:37, 1080p) EXCLUSIVE BLU-RAY FEATURE – This is a quick joint interview with Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro, where the two discuss their working history on these movies. DeNiro deadpans that these movies allow him to play moments he could never do in his serious films.
Ben and Owen – (5:29, 1080p) EXCLUSIVE BLU-RAY FEATURE – This is a quick joint interview with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, where the two discuss their history going back to Wilson’s interview for The Cable Guy.
Bout Time – (4:02, 1080p) This featurette covers the climactic fistfight between Stiller and DeNiro. There are a few more mutual compliments here, but the most surprising material comes when Stiller and the others, even DeNiro, compare the situation with Raging Bull. The best moment comes during an on-set interview with the stunt doubles in the ball tub, where the safety guys are beaning the doubles throughout the interview.
Focker Foot Locker – (1:40, 1080p) This is a quick compilation of recitations of the name “Focker” throughout the three films. Watch this only if you are really curious about how many times they got away with it…
BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events.
Free Streaming Movie – As part of the BD-Live functionality, this Blu-ray provides access to a free streamed viewing of Sgt. Bilko or Junior, once you enter your Universal BD-Live login. Further movies are available at a reduced price of $2.99 each. All of these streams are only available for a limited time at this price – the offer expires at the end of August.
My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.
pocket BLU – The usual functionality for iPhones and other smartphones is included here.
The film and the special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.
DVD Edition – Included in the package is the DVD edition of the movie. The DVD holds an anamorphic standard-definition picture transfer, Dolby Digital sound mixes in English, French and Spanish, the same English DVS mix as the Blu-ray, and all of the featurettes and deleted scenes other than the “Bob and Ben” and “Ben and Owen” interviews. The DVD initially plays previews for Blue Crush 2, The Dilemma, and Hop, as well as the standard Universal Blu-ray preview.
Digital Copy – The packaging for the Blu-ray includes an insert with instructions for downloading a digital copy of the film.
IN THE END...
Little Fockers is a film that offers little to fans of the earlier films other than a look at the characters some 8 years after we first encountered them. The Blu-ray offers a fine picture and sound package, but the movie itself just doesn’t have much to recommend. Fans of Ben Stiller may want to rent this.
April 6, 2011.