DVD Review HTF Review: Meet the Parents - Bonus Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Dec 9, 2004.

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  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    [​IMG]

    Meet the Parents: Bonus Edition




    Studio: Universal
    Year: 2000
    Rated: PG-13
    Running Time: 92 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Captions: English
    Subtitles: French and Spanish
    Audio: English – Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1; French and Spanish 5.1





    Release Date:
    December 14th, 2004


    In director Jay Roach’s successful retooling of a film from the early ‘90s, Meet the Parents, Ben Stiller (is there anyone better at being the guy who tries to do the right thing but continually humiliates himself?) plays a male nurse with the unfortunate name of Gaylord “Greg” Focker, a hapless hero with striking similarities to the character he played in There’s Something About Mary. In this film, however, I think Stiller infuses his character with even more skill and depth than he displayed in Mary, which is part of the reason I think it is the better of the two films.

    Excuse me for going off on a tangent here, but I must be honest, it usually bothers me when actors keep taking on similar roles. However, as I made plain above, I don’t think there is anybody better at this sort of shtick than Ben Stiller, so even though it has been done before (and by Stiller, no less), the end result still tickles my ribs. What really kills me is that his character is so likable that I almost felt guilty for laughing at the painful situations he ends up in, but Ben Stiller makes it so very easy that I just couldn’t help it.

    Moving along, in Meet the Parents, the aforementioned Mr. Focker’s first meeting with his girlfriend/soon-to-be fiancée Pam Byrnes’ (Teri Polo) parents turns into a complete disaster, in spite of his well-intentioned attempts to win their favor. And this tale of woe and embarrassment begins just as Greg is getting ready to pop the question to Pam in a pretty unique way…until fate intervenes.

    More specifically, at that very moment, Pam gets a phone call from her sister Debbie (Nicole DeHuff), who has just become engaged to Dr. Bob Banks (Thomas McCarthy) of Denver! During this quick call, Pam expresses her surprise that her future brother-in-law had known to ask for their father Jack’s (Robert De Niro) blessing prior to asking her to marry him. Having overheard this, Greg puts the brakes on his marriage proposal, deciding to wait until he meets Pam’s parents and reveals his intentions to Jack before asking Pam to be his wife, so as not to get off on the wrong foot with his future in-laws.

    Unfortunately for our boy Greg, once they journey to the Byrnes’ home, he learns that Jack is a rather imposing and controlling person, and not at all the sweet and lovable retired florist Pam has made him out to be. Indeed, Jack is almost like a detective, questioning Greg at every opportunity and looking for weaknesses, not to mention ribbing him about being a nurse. In fact, almost from the moment Greg enters the Byrnes’ home, the poor man has no chance, for Pam carelessly mentions his dislike of cats. This does not sit too well with Jack, who is extremely fond of the family’s pet Himalayan, Mr. Jinx.

    Later, Greg’s present to Jack and his wife Dina (Blythe Danner), the bulb of an extremely rare Jerusalem Tulip, meets with complete indifference, and a joke Greg makes about a tune from folk singers Peter, Paul, and Mary gives Mr. Byrnes reason to think that Mr. Focker might be a drug abuser. As you might expect, Jack’s opinion of Greg continues on the downward spiral from there, with every move he makes having dire consequences for either Debbie’s impending wedding or his relationship with his potential in-laws.

    Ultimately, as the weekend presses on, poor Greg ends up in some of the most uncomfortable situations imaginable, including suffering through a polygraph examination administered by his beloved’s father, which includes questions about pornography, and causing a septic tank to overflow onto the lawn Debbie and Bob are going to tie the knot on. Even worse, in his desperate search for approval, the little white lies Greg tells, and some of the actions he takes, quickly come back to bite him, effectively making this the worst weekend of his life.

    Will Greg be driven to the brink by Jack’s behavior? Will he even survive the rest of his weekend at the Byrnes’ home, and continue his relationship with Pam? Watch and see…

    Well, that is a brief description of the plot, but how is Meet the Parents as a film? Now it is only my opinion, of course, but one of the best things about Meet the Parents is the brisk pace given to it by director Jay Roach (the Austin Powers trilogy), which helps the film deliver an awful lot of laughs throughout its running time. Better still, although it is certain that Meet the Parents was influenced by some of the gross-out comedies that have been so popular in recent years, stomach-turning gags are relied upon rather infrequently, so this film never becomes too tasteless (in my view, anyway). In addition, the premise – the tension-filled first meeting with one’s future in-laws – is something that everyone can identify with, which makes the fact that this poor schmuck is suffering through such a hellish situation all the more funny.

    I also believe that this film benefits immensely from its performers, all of whom are excellent! Naturally, Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro, both of whom are wonderful (and very different) comic actors, carry the film, but the remainder of the talented cast, which includes Owen Wilson as Pam’s former fiancée and Blythe Danner as Mrs. Byrnes, also more than hold their own. Getting back to the main players, however, Robert De Niro’s stern expressions and delivery are executed perfectly, and Ben Stiller matches him move for move, digging his character into a bigger and bigger hole as the story moves forward as only he can.

    All in all, all the ingredients for a successful comedy were here – gifted actors, a good script, and a director perfectly suited for this material. However, unlike so many other films ideas that sound good on paper, the collaboration between the cast and crew of Meet the Parents resulted in the fulfillment of its promise. As I have said many, many times in my reviews, comedy is a subjective thing, but in my opinion, this is one of the funniest and most charming comedies released in the past five years! If it has somehow passed you buy, I highly recommend giving it a look!







    SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
    In comparing this new-fangled “Bonus Edition” DVD with the previous “Collector’s Edition” DVD, it appears that Universal Home Video has recycled their transfer for Meet the Parents, which is fine, since it looked very good before. On this disc, as was the case with the previous one, the film is framed in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and has been anamorphically enhanced for widescreen displays.

    Getting down to brass tacks though, the images rendered by this DVD were very clean and sharp, with excellent fine detail that extends well into the background of most shots. Colors are also reproduced in a lovely fashion, either bright and bold or crisp and cool, as need be, and without any traces of chroma noise. Similarly, the actors’ skin tones remained smooth and natural in their appearance throughout the film.

    Further, blacks are rich and deep, and contrast is well balanced, so the image continually maintains a pleasing amount of shadow detail, texture, and dimensionality. There are also minimal traces of edge enhancement, and absolutely no signs of compression artifacts, despite the presence of a multitude of 5.1 channel soundtracks, a commentary track, and a handful of bonus features. Kudos to Universal for a job well done (even if it was done a couple of years ago [​IMG] )!




    WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
    The 5.1 channel soundtracks (the DTS version from the previous disc is on board!) are standard issue for a comedy, with the vast majority of the audio information coming from the front and center of the soundstage. The soundstage does widen a bit when music is playing, but in general, there are no location specific effects or dynamic sounds that require the rear channels to be very active. The subwoofer also sees little action, although it does provide some subtle support at a couple of key moments in the film.

    Like the image transfer, all indications are that these are the very same 5.1 mixes from the Collector’s Edition disc, and again that is fine, since the source material (especially dialogue) was reproduced crisply on said DVD. Randy Newman’s score also sounds quite good, and boasts decent separation and realistic timbres, not that it is a very busy score, mind you.

    As a parting shot, if you opt for the DTS soundtrack (as I always do), the differences between its Dolby Digital counterpart are minute. More specifically, you can expect slightly better imaging and even more realistic timbres, particularly as it relates to the film’s music, but that is about it. Basically, either option is a fine choice, and reproduces the source material accurately enough, but the DTS track is still there if you want it (unlike the recent “Explosive Edition” of The Bourne Identity [​IMG] ).





    EXTRAS, EXTRAS!!!


    Audio Commentary
    For this “Bonus Edition”, only one of the two feature-length commentary tracks from the previous DVD returns, but it is the better and more informative one, with Director Jay Roach and editor Jon Poll. If you enjoyed the film, you are sure to like this track, as it offers some good insight on the making of the film, particularly in terms of its technical aspects.

    Now there are a few pauses during the film, and it can be a bit on the “dry” side, due to the concentration on the technical aspects of putting the film together, but overall, I think it is worth a listen.


    Deleted Scenes
    These are the same two deleted scenes available on the “Collector’s Edition” disc, with optional audio commentary by director Jay Roach. The first scene, “Itinerary/Surf and Turd”, is a very funny scene, and probably could have been left in, but the second scene, entitled “Crawlspace” really doesn’t add much – well, it does explain how the jacket Greg had borrowed from Denny became so dirty when he was on the roof of the Byrnes’ house, but that is about it.


    Outtakes
    The outtakes reel from the previous disc returns as well, featuring a plethora of line flubs, actors laughing mid-take, and behind-the-scenes footage of the cast goofing around, some of which are rather long sequences. You know, in watching it again after a long time, I did not realize just how many outtakes were included! It is amazing there were any left in the vault.


    NEW:

    Outtakes
    The outtakes section contains 35 “never-before-seen” outtakes, which run as one continuous reel. Basically, it features everything you might expect – more joking around on set, line flubs, and other assorted goofiness, but some of the outtakes are fairly funny.


    De Niro Unplugged
    Were you itching to see a deleted scene, featuring Jack Byrnes singing a rather lame version of “Love Is In The Air” during Debbie and Bob’s wedding reception? Well, now you can…for me, however, it really did not add much value to this new “bonus edition” DVD of Meet the Parents.


    Silly Cat Tricks
    During this brief featurette, Dawn Barken, the film’s animal trainer provides an explanation of how the cats that portrayed Jinx the cat performed some of the amazing tricks they do in the movie. She also briefly describes her training methods and the difficulties inherent in working with felines.


    The Truth About Lying
    In “The Truth About Lying”, polygraph specialist Nick Savastano talks about the effectiveness of polygraph examinations in determining whether a subject is being truthful or not, describes the body’s physiological reaction to consciously told lies, breaks down the components of the polygraph machine, and comments on the accuracies/inaccuracies of the polygraph scenes in the film.


    Jay Roach: A Director’s Profile
    I was hoping that this featurette would end up being more like its title suggests, but in actuality it is really just some shots of Mr. Roach in action on set, which play over a techno beat and memorable quotes from the film Meet the Parents. If you’ve got a minute or two to waste, then go for it, but the point of this extra is lost on me.


    DVD Credits
    As its title would suggest, selecting this option provides viewers with a list of the folks responsible for putting this DVD together.


    Promotional Materials
    The disc kicks off with skippable trailers for Wimbledon, Anchorman, the live-action Thunderbirds, and Friday Night Lights.



    SCORE CARD

    (on a five-point scale)
    Film: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]



    THE LAST WORD
    Sure, it may be a little formulaic, but I love Meet the Parents! In fact, I think it is one of the most enjoyable comedies released during the past few years, due to its great pacing, good-natured humor, and stellar performances by Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, and almost the entire supporting cast.

    So, how do I feel about this “Bonus Edition” DVD? Well, to be honest, although the new outtakes are OK and the polygraph featurette is fairly interesting, the additional extras are certainly not reason enough to go out and buy this disc, unless of course you do not already have it. Fortunately for those without, the extras from the previous disc (with the notable exceptions of one audio commentary and a “making of”-type featurette) have been retained, as have the fine image transfer and 5.1 channel soundtracks.

    Thus, in the final analysis, this DVD is what it appears to be – an attempt to tack on a few extras to the previous version of Meet the Parents, in order to re-release it just in time for the theatrical release of the sequel, Meet the Fockers. If you have followed my reviews for a while, you already know I frown on such practices, unless the new DVD offers something truly worthwhile. In this case it does not, so there is no reason for me to recommend an upgrade if you already own the “Collector’s Edition” disc. Frankly, I don’t like the new cover art as much either…or the term “bonus edition”, not that it matters.

    On the other hand, if you do not have Meet the Parents in your library already, then I highly recommend picking this title up, especially since it is supposed to come with a free pass to see the sequel!


    Stay tuned…
     
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    There was an ad for this on TV this morning that indeed stated that it includes a ticket for the sequel.

    Sounds like the A/V is the same as the previous disc, and they replaced a commentary and making-of with fluff. I think I'd rather pick up the old version!
     
  3. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

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    I'll just keep the first release of this. It is fine and I am not going to re-buy any UNIVER$AL titles for the sake of a sequel being released. Besides, UNIVER$AL is taking away the trailers from their DVD's.
     
  4. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    I grow very tired of re-releases. If it had something substantial.....okay, that's fine. But to release it because the sequel is coming out and simply add crappy extras that amount to squat is just Universal's way of fleecing it's customers. I'll keep the original one thank you very much.

    Thanks for the review Jason.
     
  5. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Ridiculous.

    The extras sound like the usual marketing fluff thrown together simply for the sake of a reissue movie tie-in. Plus the cover art stinks. No reason to pick this up at all.
     
  6. Jeff Reis

    Jeff Reis Stunt Coordinator

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    What a joke...these retooled "SE"'s are clearly becoming a means for these studios to drop extras (like MGM with the new Rocky), presumably so they don't have to pay the talent. I'm not really familiar with how these kinds of things work, but I would guess they dropped the commentary with Deniro and Stiller because they would have had to compensate them somehow. Same reason we're getting so many discs with a bunch of sub-30 minute featurettes instead of lengthy documentaries.
     
  7. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    I think im the only one that hasnt seen Meet the Parents. I love Deniro but loathe Stiller.

    I might give this a rental cause I hear that Deniro is funny as hell.
     
  8. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    It's definitely worth a rental.
     
  9. Tom Tsai

    Tom Tsai Supporting Actor

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    I held out on the original release and now I don't know what to do. I want to get the previous version for the 2 commentary tracks and the making-of feature, but then I kind of want to get the new release just so to save money on the movie ticket. What to do?

    How is the making-of feature on the original? Is it worth not getting the free movie ticket for it? or should I just go ahead and pick this one up?
     
  10. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    The Deniro recording is one of the worst commentary tracks I've ever sat through. It's not even worth checking out, in fact, it's painful to listen to. I think he unwillingly mumbles a total of 5 or 6 sentences throughout and none of which are even coherent. Do not let that be the factor in persuading your decision to purchase the new version.
     
  11. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I didn't even know this was coming out until I saw this review, and I'll pass...I already have the original disc, and I will do just fine with that.

    Thanks for the review though, as it was very helpful when you compared this release to the previous one which makes my decision to pass that much easier.
     
  12. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    The review is appreciated, but I'll be sticking with the original disc also.
     
  13. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Although the review is appreciated, I'll also stick with the original.
     
  14. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Thanks but I already have the original release!
     
  15. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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    Stickin' with the original.
     
  16. Josh Simpson

    Josh Simpson Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the review! I'll stick with my original, though. Even the newer artwork is a big minus. No thanks.
     

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