Meet the Parents: Collector's Edition (2000)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 3-Oct-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Audio Commentary-J Rosenthal(Pro),R De Niro(Act),B Stiller(Act),J Roach(Dir)
Audio Commentary-Jay Roach (Director) & Jon Poll (Editor)
Deleted Scenes-(3:20)
Outtakes-(11:44)
Theatrical Trailer-(2) 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0
Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 103:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:21) 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
John Abrahams
Owen Wilson
Case ?
RPI $36.95 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)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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

   After what I consider to be the unnecessary and counter-productive release of Meet The Parents to rental only release a few months back, we have now got in hand the sell-through version of the film. Based upon my survey of people I know who have DVD players, I have been unable to find one that actually rented the rental version. As I suggested in the original review however, if you have rented the DVD during the rental period, then I really don't think you would need to be rushing out to buy this sell-through Collector's Edition. Believe me, the film had already lost a lot of its lustre after reviewing the rental only release - by the time I watched this three times in a row reviewing the sell-through version, I would have to say that I would be happy never to see the film again. This is not a film that bears repeated viewings at all well, and some of the jokes are not so much worn thin on the fifth viewing but are actually downright grating.

   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 fiancé 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 continuing to appreciate that my views are somewhat at variance with the general feelings about this film, the fact is that after five viewings the film really has become very grating. 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 or third or fourth or fifth time? In that respect, this is a perfect film for rental release, but quite where this sell-through version of the film will fall is anyone's guess.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Having now watched the sell-through version three times, I would have to say that my initial impressions of the transfer on the rental release were not confirmed and perhaps I was a tad harsh on it. This would seem to be pretty much the same transfer, but it just gives the impression of being a bit sharper and a tad less affected by grain in the internal shots.

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

    In general this is a very good transfer, even though what follows may indicate otherwise. It is simply that whilst the general is good, there are a few moments that are a tad disappointing. There is a slight difference between the internal Byrnes household shots and all other shots as far as grain is concerned. Sharpness is pretty good throughout, although the Byrnes 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). As far as I can recall, and certainly from my notes, there are no film artefacts in the transfer. It is because of the similarity in these areas that it is presumed that this is the same transfer used for the rental release.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change now coming at 72:21. This occurs just at the end of a scene and is just a little noticeable, even though it is not really disruptive to the overall flow of the film.

    There are limited subtitle options on the DVD, but the English for the Hearing Impaired efforts are quite reasonable. They miss a little in the way of dialogue but nothing that is too important. The subtitles themselves are nicely presented and are very legible.

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

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and two English Audio Commentaries in Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the English soundtrack, the complete Audio Commentary with Jay Roach and Jon Poll and as much of the other Audio Commentary as I could stand before having to give it up through boredom.

    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 pretty much turns out to be one of those instances where the presence of Audio Commentaries does not in itself justify Collector's Edition status. Interestingly the menu shot on the back cover appears to be from the rental-only release, as the options shown do not include bonus materials which is in the retail sell-through version menu.

Menu

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

Featurette - Behind The Scenes (24:18)

    One of the Spotlight On Location efforts, this is a not too shabby an effort at all. Mixes a nice collection of interviews (some admittedly of the cloying nature that I do not endure all that well) with some behind-the-scenes footage and excerpts from the film. As such, it is certainly worth noting that this should be watched after the film. One item that does stand out for me is a little unintended demonstration of why widescreen presentation is important for DVD: there are a couple of instances of footage taken off the director's camera view showing the marked out widescreen window in the whole full frame. This clearly demonstrates how the director frames the shot with the widescreen aspect ratio in mind at all times, and thus equally demonstrates how pan and scan destroys that framing intention. Basically: widescreen = very good, pan and scan = very bad but Full Frame using the whole negative = good too. Presented in a Full Frame format with film excerpts in their proper 1.85:1 ratio, this is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with decent Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Audio Commentary - Robert De Niro (Actor/Producer), Ben Stiller (Actor), Jay Roach (Director) and Jane Rosenthal (Producer)

    How to spell disappointing with a capital D. The first problem is that Jay Roach and Ben Stiller were in New York and Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal were in Los Angeles for the recording of this. Accordingly, there is little in the way of chemistry here and it comes across as a stilted effort at best. I will admit to listening to only about twenty minutes of it, for that was as much a I could stand - it was that boring. Robert De Niro barely says anything and even his answers to direct questions are studies in brevity and non-commitment. Despite the presence of four persons, there was plenty of silence here. When they did speak there was little communicated that added anything to the understanding or enjoyment of the film. Perhaps the presence of one of the greatest actors around today created an undue expectation, but I found this to be really avoidable.

Audio Commentary - Jay Roach (Director) and Jon Poll (Editor)

    Now this is a much better effort. Whilst still not the most entertaining effort you will ever hear, it was at least listen able as there was interesting background stuff aplenty that heightens the understanding of the film. The only issue is that they talk a lot about deleted scenes that don't even make an appearance in the package and it would have been very interesting to make the comparisons between the final version of the film and those deleted scenes to see if their decisions were the right ones. This effort is certainly worthy of a listen.

Deleted Scenes (3:20)

    Well, after listening to the audio commentaries I would have thought it possible to come up with more than just two deleted scenes! Neither are really that special and the reason for excision is pretty obvious. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, they are not 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The technical quality is pretty poor, and the sound is fairly low level stuff.

Outtakes (11:44)

    Wherein basically we get plenty of Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller reducing themselves and others to laughter for often no readily apparent reason. Not exactly the most exciting such collection that I have ever seen. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, they are not 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Theatrical Trailer

    A fairly typical example of the genre, which basically means all the good bits are revealed, so don't bother watching the film! Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Nothing wrong with this technically.

Theatrical Trailer

    Another fairly typical example of the (slightly extended) genre, which basically means even more of the good bits as well as a few not-so-good bits are revealed, so don't bother watching the film! Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Nothing wrong with this technically.

Booklet

    The slick mentions the presence of a 4 page booklet with production notes being included with the DVD. Whilst this was missing from our review copy, presumably it is in the actual version available for sale.

R4 vs R1

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

    There would appear to be no significant differences between the Region 1 release and the Region 4 release, apart from a dts soundtrack. Basically the Region 4 release appears to miss out on:

    Given that the transfers sound pretty similar, the additional dts soundtrack may weigh in favour of Region 1, even though this is not a film that would overly demonstrate the dts format particularly well.

Summary

    Well, if my view of Meet The Parents was not so great after reviewing the rental-only release, you can bet that it is even less great after watching the film a further three times. It is an over-hyped film that rapidly wears out anything remotely entertaining about the film. The "jokes" are mainly forced and a little obvious and by now I am really beyond thinking this is somewhat laboured, but rather more as definitely grating (as in the tendency to use the fast forward button to miss excruciating bits is increased by every view of the film). The video transfer is generally very good, bearing in mind the slight issue with internal shots, and the audio transfer is nicely understated, which suits the film pretty well. The extras package is good but nothing overly memorable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, September 17, 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

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Steve K
The DVD Bits - Daniel P (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
DVDownUnder - Matt G
DVD Plaza - Peter

Comments (Add)
Commentary & Stuff - Anonymous