"Little Fockers" Review: The Focker Franchise Has Seen Better Days

Just in time for the whole family to file into the multiplex on a silent Christmas night when there's nowhere else to go: a return to the magnified dysfunction of the Fock­er household, and the cozy holiday glow of some paychecking celebrities. After a temporary truce, Ben Stiller's mensch male nurse, Gaylord "Greg" Focker, sits down again at the dining table with Robert De Niro's ex-CIA hard-case father-in-law, with predictably horrifying results. Extended family and friends have begun to assemble on the occasion of the titular Focker twins' fifth birthday party. Greg's tenuous hold on his masculinity begins slipping anew as old rivalries reignite with his wife's Dad and ex-boyfriend (Owen Wilson, still hoarding the few good lines). Adding to the stress is the appearance of Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba), an aggressively perky, flirtatious pharmaceuticals flack who wants Greg to be the face of a new ED pill. The reasonably diverting, focused, well-played degradation ceremony of 2000's Meet the Parents replays today in a welter of equal-opportunity demographic-pandering references, chemical-boner popping, and a slightly desperate rooting around for gags. There are some game performances and a couple half-laughs, but this is the screen-comedy equivalent of a televised Yule log.

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