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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Meet the Parents (2000)

Updated: Jun 18, 2023


Cast:

  • Jay Roach, Director

  • Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke, Writers

  • Randy Newman, Composer

  • Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes

  • Ben Stiller as Gaylord "Greg" Focker

  • Teri Polo as Pam Byrnes

  • Blythe Danner as Dina Byrnes

  • Nicole DeHuff as Debbie Byrnes

  • Jon Abrahams as Denny Byrnes

  • Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley

  • James Rebhorn as Larry Banks

  • Thomas McCarthy as Bob Banks

  • Phyllis George as Linda Banks

*Recognition:

  • Meet the Parents was released on October 6, 2000.

  • It made an estimated $330 million on a budget of roughly $55 million, making it, at the time, the highest grossing film of Robert DeNiro's career. (*it would be surpassed four years later by the sequel Meet the Fockers)

  • Meet the Parents would go on to be the 7th highest grossing film of 2000.

  • Meet the Parents was nominated for one Oscar for Original Song, "A Fool in Love" by Randy Newman.

  • The film also received mostly positive reviews, and eventually was recognized by the American Film Institute on its 2005 list: 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes with Jack Byrnes: "I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?" as a Nominee for that list.

  • Meet the Parents currently holds an 84% on RT, a 73 score on Metacritic, and a 3.2 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: The stress of meeting the family of your significant other for the first time, and convincing them you're not a psychopath.


Plot Summary: Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) wants to propose to his girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), but, before he can, Pam finds out that her sister is engaged and her husband to be asked her father's permission causing Greg to rethink his plan. Because the wedding is the following weekend, Pam and Greg fly to Long Island to meet her parents Jack (Robert De Nero) and Dina Byrnes (Blythe Danner) for the first time. He soon learns that Jack is overprotective and more than a bit intense. Greg, hoping to win Jack's approval, makes a series of blunders, only driving a wedge between he and Jack. Will Greg right the ship and gain Jack's approval?


Did You Know:

  • This movie is actually a remake of Meet the Parents (1992), an independent film. The seventy-five minute short film starred Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke, who also wrote the script. Glienna also directed the film on a budget of about one hundred thousand dollars. Unable to find a distributor for their film, they eventually sold the rights to Universal Pictures.

  • Greg Glienna did not come up with the surname Focker; Greg's character in the original film did not have a last name. The name was written into the script after Jim Carrey came up with the idea for the Focker surname during a creative session held before he abandoned the project. Once Meet the Parents was submitted for rating evaluation, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) questioned the surname Focker as possibly an expletive and, due to the repetitiveness of the surname throughout the film, it was in danger of being rated R according to the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system. The filmmakers were asked if they had made up the name or if they can prove that such a name exists. The studio submitted to the MPAA a list of real people with the surname Focker which ensured that the film retained a PG-13 rating.

  • When Ben Stiller came on-board, the script was retooled. Originally, it had been written for Jim Carrey, so it contained more physical, knockabout comedy. Stiller's style is less physical, so this element in the script was re-written.

  • Ben Stiller flew out to Los Angeles to propose to Christine Taylor while shooting the film. She thought he was still in New York City, and he surprised her at home with a path of candles and rose petals.

  • The role of Pam Byrnes was initially given to Naomi Watts. She ultimately lost the role to Teri Polo because the filmmakers did not think she was "sexy" enough.

  • When Greg says grace at the dinner table, it is actually the song "Day By Day", from the award winning musical Godspell, which was playing over the speakers in the store in the previous scene.

  • This is the only film in the trilogy in which Pam's sister, Deborah Byrnes, appears on-screen, though she is frequently mentioned in all of the films. Nicole DeHuff, the actress who played her, died in 2005. This explains her absence in Little Fockers (2010), but not Meet the Fockers (2004).

  • When Steven Spielberg and Jim Carrey were attached to the project, Al Pacino was set to play Jack Byrnes. Also, Anthony Hopkins and Christopher Walken were also considered for Jack.

Best Performance: Robert DeNiro (Jack)/Ben Stiller (Greg)

Best Secondary Performance: Ben Stiller (Greg)/Robert DeNiro (Jack)

Most Charismatic Award: Robert DeNiro (Jack)

Best Scene:

  • To the Drug Store and Back

  • Dinner with the Parents

  • Lie Detector Test

  • Kevin's House

  • Pool Volleyball

  • Car Chase

  • Final Confrontation

  • Red-Eye Flight

Favorite Scene: Dinner with the Parents

Most Indelible Moment: Lie Detector Test


In Memorium:

  • N/A

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Dina Byrnes: I had no idea you could milk a cat!

Greg Focker: Oh, you can milk just about anything with nipples.

Jack Byrnes: [He reacts] I have nipples, Greg, could you milk me?


Kevin: [On who inspired him to be a wood worker] I guess I would have to say Jesus. He was a carpenter, and I just figured if you're going to follow in someone's footsteps, who better than Christ?


Jack Byrnes: "My Mother", by Jack Byrnes. You gave me life / You gave me milk / You gave me courage / Your name was Angela / The angel from Heaven / But you were also an angel of God / And He needed you, too / Selfishly I tried to keep you here / While the cancer ate away your organs, / Like an unstoppable rebel force / But I couldn't save you / and I shall see your face nevermore, nevermore, nevermore / Until we meet in heaven.


Jack Byrnes: I'm a realist. I understand it's the 21st century and you've probably had premarital relations with my daughter. But under our roof, it's my way or the Long Island Expressway. Is that understood?

Greg Focker: Of course, yeah.

Jack Byrnes: Good. Keep your snake in it's cage for 72 hours.


Jack Byrnes: Oh, geez. I just thought of something.

Dina Byrnes: What?

Jack Byrnes: Pam's middle name.

Dina Byrnes: Martha... Oh, no.

Jack Byrnes, Dina Byrnes: Pamela Martha Focker.


Late Night Courier: Gaylord M. Focker?

Greg Focker: That's me.

Jack Byrnes: I thought your name was Greg.

Greg Focker: It is.

Late Night Courier: That's not what it says here.

Greg Focker: Gaylord is my legal name. Nobody's called me by it since third grade.

Denny Byrnes: Wait a minute, so your name is Gay Focker?


Jack Byrnes: I mean, can you ever really trust another human being, Greg?

Greg Focker: Sure, I think so.

Jack Byrnes: No. The answer is you cannot.


Jack Byrnes: Greg, how come you don't like cats?

Greg Focker: I don't not like cats. I-I just - I just prefer dogs. I mean, I'm just more of a dog kind of, you know. Come home, wagging their little tails, happy to see you kind of...

Jack Byrnes: You need that assurance, do you? You prefer an emotionally shallow animal?

Greg Focker: I...

Jack Byrnes: You see, Greg, when you yell at a dog, his tail will go between his legs and cover his genitals, his ears will go down. A dog is very easy to break, but cats make you work for their affection. They don't sell out the way dogs do.


Greg Focker: O dear God, thank you. You are such a good God to us. A kind and gentle and accommodating God. And we thank You O sweet, sweet Lord of hosts for the smörgåsbord You have so aptly lain at our table this day, and each day... by day. Day by day... by day. O dear Lord, three things we pray: To love Thee more dearly, to see Thee more clearly, to follow Thee more nearly day by day... by day. Amen.


Pam Byrnes: Take it easy on the sarcasm. Humor is entirely wasted on my parents.

Greg Focker: What are they... Amish?


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 6

Impact/Significance: 9

Novelty: 5.75

Classic-ness: 6.75

Rewatchability: 8.5

Audience Score: 8.3 (87% Google, 79% RT)

Total: 44.3


Remaining Questions:

  • Does this film end a little too neatly?

  • How is Greg removed from an airplane but faces no consequences?

  • Why would you think you could pass off the imposter Jinx more than a few minutes given Jack's weird relationship to the cat?

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