Meet the Parents (Rental) (2000)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 103:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jay Roach
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Robert De Niro
Ben Stiller
Blythe Danner
Teri Polo
James Rebhorn
Nicole DeHuff
Owen Wilson
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Randy Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Dutch
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Amongst a plethora of good films during 2000, Meet The Parents seemed to attract quite a deal of critical acclaim. So whilst on my recent travels when I had the opportunity to indulge in a view of the film, it was taken with alacrity. About 100 minutes later I could not understand what the fuss was all about - Meet The Parents was a fairly typical good film, but nothing extraordinarily outstanding. Mind you, that was after watching the film on one of those small personal video monitors in business class, so perhaps that was the problem? Thus the advent of this review copy of the rental-only release of the film ensured that it would be viewed again with rapidity in order to see whether my initial reactions to the film were false. Unfortunately, the second viewing of the film has done nothing to change my view of the film: it is good but nothing special. Basically, Meet The Parents is a film that has been over-hyped.

   The broad story is fairly straightforward. Male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) has found the woman of his dreams in teacher Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) and has planned his proposal with her class' aid. Unfortunately the proposal is side-tracked by a telephone call from Debbie (Nicole DeHuff), Pam's sister, with news of her own wedding plans. In the passing conversation, Greg discovers that Debbie's fiancé had done the traditional thing and asked her father's permission before proposing. And so it is that Greg finds himself travelling from Chicago to New York with Pam for the weekend to Meet The Parents. In ordinary circumstances, this is a heavy enough burden to bear, but when your prospective father-in-law is an ex-CIA operative of over 30 years standing whose area of speciality was psychological profiling, there is plenty of added pressure. Inevitably, when Greg meets Jack (Robert De Niro) and Dina Byrnes (Blythe Danner), things start off rockily and get progressively worse. The weekend basically turns into hell and nothing Greg does resurrects the situation in the slightest. Whilst mother Dina is more than happy with Greg, Jack remains his ever-suspicious self and basically Greg confirms every suspicion. Of course, he compounds every suspicion by not exactly telling the truth, but then again he is under a lot of pressure. What follows is an unlikely sequence of events, including meeting Pam's former fiancee Kevin (Owen Wilson), on a downward spiral to hell. Anyway, by the end of the weekend, Greg finds himself so far in the doghouse that he is heading back to Chicago pretty well convinced that Pam and he are finished, thanks to Jack.

   The story is not especially brilliant, let down a little by a fair degree of telegraphy in my view. In the circumstances, this really required something special in the acting and directing department to lift the film out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, apart from the work of Robert De Niro doing another great comedic turn, this lacks those performances. In my opinion, those that were proclaiming this a De Niro masterpiece were seriously overstating the mark. Whilst his comedic skills are very much under-appreciated, this is not even his best work in the genre. It is good, and he has a deft touch at times, but personally I think Analyse This is a much stronger effort. Ben Stiller produces his usual down-trodden shtick and to be honest it is getting to be a little difficult to stomach it. It might have been refreshingly good once, but this really lacks the necessary distinctiveness that the part required. It is almost like he was overwhelmed at working with the great Robert De Niro. Teri Polo does a fair job as the romantic interest and female lead, and handles herself pretty well. The rest of the cast put on a decent enough show and round out the remaining characters pretty well, but they really are a side-show in this main event. There is no real distinction in the directing and cinematography could perhaps have been better. At times, I found the film just a little congested in the visuals and this needed to be opened up a little more at times.

   Whilst appreciating that my views are somewhat at variance with the general feelings about this film, I really do not believe that this is a film that bears repeated viewings at all well. There is no real subtlety here at all, and that is the main problem: there is nothing new to be found in the film on repeated viewings. You get everything the first time through and so why watch it a second time? In that respect, this is a perfect film for rental release. However, as far as the release of a sell-through version is concerned in October, I would suggest that DreamWorks have shot themselves in the proverbial foot. If you all go out and rent this film now, then I really doubt you would need to worry about buying the sell-through version in a few months time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I have to confess that for a recent film I was expecting something fine in the way of a transfer. Whilst this is a generally very good transfer, there is a constant feeling of something not-quite-right, most especially during internal shots at the Byrne house. It is almost like the internal shots were done on a different film stock or something, as it has a slightly grainier look than the external shots.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    It needs to be understood that in general this is a very good transfer, for what follows may indicate otherwise. It is simply that whilst the general is good, the specific at times is a tad disappointing. In that regard, the earlier comments regarding the slight difference between the internal Byrne household shots and all other shots should be noted, for there is a difference that is a tad noticeable. Sharpness is pretty good throughout, although the Byrne household shots seem just a little diffuse, whereas some of the external shots (notably those during the drive to the Oyster Bay drug store) are brilliantly sharp, such that the reflections of the passing trees are clearly seen in the windscreen. Detail is generally excellent, with very little not being brought to light here. Shadow detail is not much of an issue, only coming into play in the shots through the short tunnel into the "interrogation" room and even then there is no real loss of detail at all. Clarity is excellent, allowing for those relatively slight graininess issues. There is nothing in the way of low level noise issues in the transfer.

    The overall colour palette is excellent, very natural looking and with just a nice degree of vibrancy to the palette. There is a nice solidity to the tones although they are lacking the ultimate in saturation. Blacks could perhaps have been a little more solid. Perhaps the quality of the colour can be highlighted by the range of skin tones on offer during the swimming pool scene. There is no evidence of oversaturation in the transfer, and colour bleed is also not an issue.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are only some relatively minor film-to-video artefacts in the transfer; just a little shimmer here and there (most noticeably in the shirt collar at 9:04 and 13:15) and a bit of wobble (at 23:03). As far as I can recall, and certainly from my notes, there are no film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 60:19. This occurs mid-scene and is just a little noticeable, even though it is not really disruptive to the overall flow of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to the English soundtrack, and managed to avoid the German soundtrack completely.

    The dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, although there are a few sequences done at low levels that tax the ears a tad. There are no problems with audio sync at all.

    The music score comes from the pen of the seemingly omnipresent Randy Newman. Amongst the current generation of film composers, there are two who can be readily identified by their music - Danny Elfman and Randy Newman. The problem with remaining so close to a readily identifiable style is that, whilst making it easy to pick up who the composer is, the various film scores start to run into each other and lack something in the way of distinctiveness. That really is the problem here - the lack of distinction. It does the job asked of it well enough, but you really would not know you are watching Meet The Parents as opposed to any other film he has scored.

    The film is very much dialogue-based. There is little in the way of bass channel use here, and even surround channel use is pretty limited. Indeed, the lack of rear surround channel use was rather noticeable at times. Something along the lines of silence is golden - well, not so much golden as obvious. For a higher bitrate soundtrack, this is not as open and clear as I would have expected. It is by no means congested but it lacks a bit of air in the sound that I would have expected here. There was no problem with distortions or any other blemishes in the transfer, and this is a perfectly serviceable soundtrack in every way. It simply lacks any sort of distinction.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a bare-bones rental release and therefore the lack of extras is not unexpected.

Menu

    Hardly the greatest ever seen, quite ordinarily themed and lacking any great use really. The audio enhancement helps and they are 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is a rental release and therefore a comparison with the sell-through versions available elsewhere is pointless really.

Summary

    Meet The Parents is in my view an over-hyped film that is nowhere near as entertaining as has been made out. The "jokes" are mainly forced and a little obvious and after the first viewing I found this to be somewhat laboured. The video transfer is generally very good, bearing in mind the slight problem with internal shots, and the audio transfer is nicely understated, which suits the film pretty well. Whilst the hype is not matched by the film itself, this is still worthwhile renting just to see Robert De Niro playing another comic role with aplomb. The sell-through version should be available in October 2001 and will hopefully contain an extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, June 20, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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