Rustled-up fluff sequels like this are made or flayed by the players. ""What kind of people would name their child Gaylord Focker?"" mused the set-up tease at the end of Meet The Parents. The real question being, what kind of people could play Father and Mother Focker?
When Jack (De Niro) meets Greg's stay-at-home liberal dad Bernie (Hoffman) and senior citizen sex therapist mum Roz (Streisand), he's obviously a little grumpy about the gene pool. But things really escalate when beloved kitty Jinx - trained to flush the toilet in his new state-of-the-art RV - has a run-in with the Fockers' sex-crazed pooch, Moses.
Further tension emerges when Roz refuses to curb her sexual openness and embarrasses Greg when she and Bernie are caught indulging in loud sex games involving whipped cream and role-play. Bernie's decision to initiate a game of touch football to "reach out" to Jack is equally unhelpful.
Considering Streisand's comedy roots stretch back to the late '60s/ early '70s, with Funny Girl and What's Up Doc?, it's hard to believe this is only her second out-and-out comedy in 25 years. But she's up to the challenge, clearly revelling in the frizzy wig, Bohemian garb and spirited Yiddish slang. Sleazy, blaring-shirted Bernie is a great contrast to not-so-saucy Jack, just as Hoffman and De Niro mesh together perfectly, giving a strong sense of two old pros trying to send each other into a corpsing spin.
Roach has made the smart decision to not try and rein in any of this talent, relying on Ben Stiller's straight-guy skills to keep the mugging under control - with mostly successful results. While some of the intended belly-laughs belly-flop, it's impossible to resist when a cast of this calibre is willing to go to any length to make you laugh. And when we say any length - just watch De Niro's Jack as he cheerfully models a strap-on breast he's invented to feed the baby, and hence "avoid nipple confusion"...