Meet the Parents

Rated 2.0 Suitor Ben Stiller goes to meet his girlfriend’s parents (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner), hoping to make a good impression. But something in the father’s wily, carnivorous eyes tells the hapless young man he doesn’t stand a chance. Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg’s script depends on ridiculous misunderstandings the way a teen slasher film depends on stupid characters, and Jay Roach’s direction draws more groans than laughs as the misadventures snowball from bad to worse. Still, it’s good to see De Niro exercising his under-employed flair for comedy, and Stiller—slack-jawed, desperate, jittery—is a good foil. They make the characters’ relationship a bizarre courtship ritual in its own right—at least in the first and third acts, before and after the film’s sadistic, unpleasant middle hour.