2010_little_fockers_web.jpgIf you are over the age of 25, you may remember chewing Dubble Bubble gum.  As children, we would pop that pink cube into our mouths, make a sour face from the rush of sugar, then chew on it for fifteen minutes. By then, the gum would literally become rubber in our mouths, devoid of flavor.

These days, third and fourth sequels are like that Dubble Bubble gum after 15 minutes.  Not only have these films lost their flavor trying to recapture the magic of the original, but also they lack any real substance.

The latest sequel from the Meet the Parents franchise, Little Fockers takes place some years after Pam Focker (played by Teri Polo) found out that she was pregnant for her husband Greg (Ben Stiller) in Meet the Fockers.

Pam and Greg’s twin children, Samantha (Daisy Tahan) and Henry (Colin Baiocchi), are turning 5 and need a simple fifth birthday party.  As happens in many of these comedies, Sam and Henry’s simple birthday party turns into a mash-up of sex jokes and nincompoopery.

The subplot of Little Fockers is that Jack Byrnes (Robert de Niro), Pam’s ex-CIA tight wad father, is passing the torch of the Byrnes family to Greg.  Jack would have passed the torch to Dr. Bob (Thomas McCarthy) but Dr. Bob has fallen from grace. 

Neither plot is strong enough to be overly interesting. However, it’s obvious the filmmakers are relying on the lovable characters to carry this film. A mistake. These lovable characters, played by equally lovable actors, need a good script or the story falls with a thud.

Screenwriters John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey are the same duo who brought us Parents and Fockers. This time they didn’t manage to capture that magic and comedy that made those films so popular.  Maybe they tried too hard.  Maybe they didn’t have enough time to get it together.  Whatever the case, Little Fockers is funny but not as funny as its two predecessors.

It’s inevitable that Little Fockers will be compared to the previous films.  Stand alone, would it be funny in its own merit? Probably.  But, knowing that much better has come from Hamburg, Stuckey and Stiller, just makes Little Fockers  a faux version of the previous films.

The only shining star is Ms. Barbra Streisand as Roz Focker, also known as Grandma Focker.  Roz now has a sex talk show where she tells intimate details of her son’s life and shows people how to use things like musical condoms.  Roz is an amalgam of a cool grandma and a sex kitten. 

See why she’s the only interesting character in the film?

Other actors of note are Dustin Hoffman doing his sensitive guy routine as Bernie Focker.  Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley continues to try to steal Pam.  Blythe Danner as Dina Byrnes tries to bring the spice back into her marriage.  Jessica Alba plays ditzy a little too method as Andi Garcia.  Laura Dern’s Prudence is too perfect to be taken seriously.

And, Kevin Hart stumbles through his scenes as Nurse Louis. Despite these little Fockers of the title being cute, they’re not enough to warrant a title in their

This is more about the parents than the kids.

I was indeed excited to see an addition to the Meet the Parents series but not at the cost of the integrity of the franchise, as a whole.  It looks like there should be a time out until Stiller, et. al., can get it together.

Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com.