Meet the Parents (2000)

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Meet the Parents (2000)

Male nurse Greg Focker meets his girlfriend’s parents before proposing, but her suspicious father is every date’s worst nightmare.

Meet the Parents is a 2000 American comedy film written by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg and directed by Jay Roach. It chronicles a series of unfortunate events that befall a good-hearted but hapless nurse (Ben Stiller as Greg Focker) while visiting his girlfriend’s parents (Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes and Blythe Danner as Dina Byrnes). Teri Polo as Pam Byrnes and Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley also star.

The film is a remake of a 1992 film of the same name directed by Greg Glienna and produced by Jim Vincent. Glienna-who also played the original one’s main protagonist-and Mary Ruth Clarke cowrote the screenplay. Universal Pictures purchased the rights to Glienna’s film with the intent of creating a new version. Jim Herzfeld expanded the original script but development was halted for some time.

Jay Roach read the expanded script and expressed his desire to direct it but Universal declined him. At that time, Steven Spielberg was interested in doing so while Jim Carrey was interested in playing the lead role.[1] The studio only offered the film to Roach once Spielberg and Carrey left the project.

Released in the United States and Canada on October 6, 2000 and distributed by Universal Pictures, the film earned back its initial budget of $55 million in only 11 days. It went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of 2000, earning over $165 million in North America and over $330 million worldwide. It was well received by film critics and viewers alike, winning several awards and earning additional nominations.

Ben Stiller won two comedy awards for his performance and the film was chosen as the Favorite Comedy Motion Picture at the 2001 People’s Choice Awards. The success of the film inspired two sequels, namely Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers released in 2004 and 2010, respectively. It also inspired a reality television show titled Meet My Folks and a sitcom titled In-Laws, both of which debuted on NBC in 2002.

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Meet the Parents (2000) Trailer

Meet the Parents (2000) Reviews

Ben Stiller has a good line in embarrassment and chagrin. His chiseled face looks so earnest, so willing to please, and turns incredulous as the world conspires against him. In “There’s Something About Mary” and again in “Meet the Parents,” he plays a young man who desperately wants to impress the girl he loves and plunges into a series of humiliating miscalculations. He doesn’t have anything hanging from his ear in this picture, but he acts as if he thinks he might.In “There’s Something About Mary,” Stiller played a character who managed to set a beloved dog afire. “Meet the Parents” is not a clone or imitation of “Mary”–it has its own original inspiration–but it does get Stiller into a lot of trouble over a beloved pet cat, and even funnier trouble over another cat, entirely imaginary, which he claims to have milked.
Why would a man claim to have milked a cat? The screenplay, by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg, gets a lot of its laughs out of the way Stiller’s character tells thoughtless little social lies and then, when he’s caught, improvises his way into bigger, outrageous lies. The development is like a comic pyramid: The base is a casual claim that he was reared on a farm. It is revealed he was actually reared in Detroit. Well, yes, he says, he was.Then why did he claim to have experience at milking? Well, he had a cat, which “birthed” 30 kittens, including one little fellow who could never get his turn at the table, and . . . by this time Stiller is demonstrating how he used his fingers on the mother cat’s itsy-bitsy little nipples, and everyone in the room is regarding him as a madman.In “Meet the Parents,” he plays the unfortunately named Greg Focker. That’s not his real name; Focker is, Greg isn’t. He is in love with a Chicago schoolteacher named Pam (Teri Polo), who takes him home to meet her parents on Long Island. Her dad, Jack, is played by Robert De Niro as the nightmare of every hopeful groom. He is a reasonable man, his reason operating like a steel vise to clamp down on every contradiction and improbability in Greg’s conversation, and there is no shortage of them.

He is also a man with a great love for his cat, which he has toilet-trained, but which, ominously, “has no outdoor survival skills.” What are the odds that Greg will let the cat outdoors? And that the cat will turn out to be better toilet-trained than Greg? “Meet the Parents” builds brilliantly on interlocking comic situations, until Greg has involved himself with a counterfeit cat, set the house afire and flooded the lawn (where Pam’s sister is about to be married) with an overflowing septic tank.

Pam’s mom, Dina (Blythe Danner), understands that her husband can be hard on a young man. “Go easy on this one, Jack,” she tells De Niro. “I think Pam really likes him.” But Pam has really liked other young men–a lot of them, we gather. One that we meet is her ex-fiance Kevin (Owen Wilson), a blond multimillionaire who, for the sister’s wedding, has carved an altar out of a solid block of wood. The thing with Kevin was “strictly physical,” Pam assures Greg, who is far from assured by information like that.

Even to Greg himself, eventually it begins to appear that he is a dangerous lying maniac. The simplest situations conceal hidden traps. He is asked by Jack to say grace at dinner. “Greg is Jewish,” Jack is told. “I’m sure Jews bless their food,” Jack smiles, and Greg launches into a tortured prayer that segues, to his own horror, into lyrics from “Godspell.” (He has bad luck with lyrics; it is the wrong idea to chat with Jack about the various possible meanings of “Puff, the Magic Dragon.”) The De Niro character conceals secrets and sentimentalities.He loves his cat, he treasures the ashes of his dead mother, he is suspicious of anyone who wants to marry his daughter, and he has a wide range of double takes, frowns, lifted eyebrows, significant pauses, chilling asides and subtle put-downs. He isn’t a vulgarian, but a self-confident man who serenely enforces a set of standards that Greg violates, one by one, until finally everything has gone horribly wrong and Greg goes berserk–not in Pam’s home, but at the airport, where he is pushed over the edge by a flight attendant (Kali Rocha) on autopilot.”Meet the Parents” was directed by Jay Roach, who made the “Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery” movies and here shows he can dial down from farce into a comedy of (bad) manners. His movie is funnier because it never tries too hard; De Niro, in particular, gets laughs by leaning back and waiting for them to come to him. And Stiller is like the target in a dunk-the-clown game, smiling while the world falls out from under him.

  • Roger Ebert  – Roger Ebert
  • Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Meet the Parents (2000) Credits

Meet The Parents movie poster

Meet The Parents (2000)

Rated PG-13 For Sexual Content, Drug References and Language

108 minutes


Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes

Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley

Ben Stiller as Greg Focker

Nicole Dehuff as Debbie Byrnes

Blythe Danner as Dina Byrnes

Teri Polo as Pam Byrnes

Based On A Story by

  • Greg Glienna

Directed by

  • Jay Roach

Written by

  • John Hamburg
  • Jim Herzfeld


Meet the Parents (2000) Plot

Gaylord “Greg” Focker is a nurse living in Chicago. He intends to propose to his girlfriend, Pam Byrnes, but his plan is disrupted when they are invited to the wedding of Pam’s sister, Debbie, at their parents’ house on Long Island. Greg decides to impress Pam’s parents first, and propose to her in front of her family, but this plan is put on hold when the airline company loses his luggage which contains the engagement ring.

At the Byrnes’s house, Greg meets Pam’s father, Jack, mother, Dina, and their beloved cat, Jinx. Despite maintaining a friendly demeanor towards him, Jack is immediately suspicious of Greg and openly criticizes him for his choice of career as a male nurse and anything else he sees as a difference between Greg and the Byrnes family. Greg attempts to impress Jack, but his efforts fail. He becomes even more uncomfortable after he receives an impromptu lie detector test from Jack and later learns from Pam that Jack is a retired CIA operative who interrogated double agents.

Meeting the rest of Pam’s family and friends, Greg still feels like an outsider. Despite efforts to impress her family, his inadvertent actions make him an easy target for ridicule. Greg unintentionally gives Debbie a broken nose and a black eye during a pool volleyball game, uses a malfunctioning toilet which floods the Byrnes’ backyard with sewage, and sets the wedding altar on fire. Several misunderstandings also cause Jack to believe Greg is a marijuana user after Pam’s weed-using brother, Denny, unintentionally frames him.

Later, Greg loses Jinx and replaces him with a stray whose tail he spray paints to make him look like Jinx, which happens to also make a mess of the house (though the real Jinx is later found). By now, the entire Byrnes family, including Pam, agrees that it is best for Greg to leave Long Island until the wedding concludes. Desperate to save himself, Greg reveals he has seen Jack engaging in some secret activity with some shady characters, and that Jack is planning a secret mission after the wedding.

Jack angrily reveals that the secret mission was a surprise honeymoon for Debbie and her fiancé Bob, and Greg realizes he has only dug himself deeper into a hole. Jack also accuses Greg of lying about being a nurse and taking the Medical College Admission Test because his CIA pals could not find any record of a “Gregory” Focker.

Unwillingly, Greg goes to the airport where he is detained by airport security for insisting that his luggage stays with him rather than be checked. Back at the Byrnes’s house, Jack learns from a disappointed Pam that he could find no record of Greg from the CIA because his real name is Gaylord, and is presented with copies of Greg’s transcripts his parents faxed her, proving that Greg passed the Medical College Admission Test.

Despite this, Jack still states his belief that Greg is an unsuitable husband for Pam because of the mistakes and lies he made, but is told off by Dina over his consistent picking apart of any man Pam brings home (and that he didn’t even like Pam’s previous fiancé, Kevin, until after they broke up).

After hearing Pam make a heartfelt phone call to Greg to apologize for not sticking up for him earlier, Jack realizes that Pam truly loves Greg. He rushes to the airport, convinces airport security to release Greg, and brings him back to the Byrnes’s house. Jack performs a lie detector test on Greg to tell the truth about the weekend and loving Pam, leading Jack to propose to Greg to be his son-in-law.

As Greg is proposing to Pam, Jack and Dina listen in on their conversation from another room, agreeing that they should now meet Greg’s parents (though both are visibly worried about this). After Debbie’s wedding, Jack views footage of Greg recorded by hidden cameras that he had placed strategically around the house in which Greg calls Jack a “psycho” and mocks him and exposes Denny as the true marijuana user.

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Meet the Parents (2000) Box office

Theatrical run

The film had its theatrical release in United States and Canada on October 6, 2000. Distributed domestically by Universal Studios, it had an advertising budget of $33.9 million. It quickly proved to be a financial success taking in $28.6 million during its opening weekend and averaging $10,950 per theater in a total of 2,614 theaters.

It finished as the top-earning film for the weekend of October 6–8 beating the second-placer Remember the Titans by a margin of over $9 million and bringing in more than four times the earnings of Get Carter, the next highest-earning film released that same weekend.

Its opening-weekend earnings were the highest ever for any film released in the month of October as well as marking the highest opening weekend earnings for a film starring Robert De Niro.[41] Its earnings for the second week of release dropped by 26% down to $21.1 million, which still kept it at No.1 at the box office beating Remember the Titans by a margin of over $8 million. By the end of the second week of release, it had already grossed over $58 million, surpassing its production budget of $55 million.

It spent its first four weeks of theatrical release as the highest-grossing film at the U.S. box office.[39][43] It was displaced from No.1 during the weekend of November 3–5 by the newly released Charlie’s Angels while still managing to stay ahead of The Legend of Bagger Vance, another new release that debuted at number 3.[44] It remained in the Top 10 grossing films until its 11th week.

In the United Kingdom, it had its theatrical premiere on December 15, 2000 and was distributed by United International Pictures (UIP).[45][46] There, it managed to earn over $21 million during its run. In Australia, also being distributed by UIP, it was released on December 26, 2000 where it earned over $11 million during the theatrical run.

At the end of its theatrical run on March 29, 2001—twenty-five weeks after its opening day in North America—the film had grossed $166.2 million in the United States and a total of $330.4 million worldwide, making it the seventh-highest-grossing film of the year both domestically and worldwide.


Home media

The film was released on VHS and DVD on March 6, 2001. The DVD sales for it were successful, taking in over $200 million for 2001. Billboard magazine listed it as having the highest video sales for all weeks from March 31 up to and including April 21, being the top-selling DVD for the weeks of March 24 and March 31, and being the top-rented video for the weeks of April 7 and April 14.

The DVD release provides only the letterbox format of the film and is also 108 minutes in length. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 with an accommodation for an enhanced 16:9 playback. English-language audio tracks available with the film are a 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS with the main noticeable difference being only a slightly louder bass on one of the tracks.[59] A French-language audio track is also available only in 5.1 Dolby Digital Format. Additionally, English language subtitles are provided as well.

The single-disc “Collector’s Edition” contains two audio commentaries, one a light-hearted and humorous discussion between Roach, Stiller, De Niro, and producer Jane Rosenthal and the other a more formal technical commentary on the film-making aspects by the director and editor Jon Poll. The director discusses issues that include working with the cast, utilizing the best camera angles for comedic effect, discussing scenes that were improvised and scenes that were scripted, and commenting on issues surrounding shooting on location.

The editor speaks about putting together the best functioning comedy from material that was filmed and discusses some deleted scenes that were excluded from the DVD release. In addition, the DVD features a twelve-minute outtake section, three minutes of deleted scenes, and Universal’s Spotlight on Location featurette. Spotlight on Location is a standard 24-minute-long featurette about the making of the film which includes interviews with the cast members and contains behind-the-scenes footage.

It also contains two games called Take The Lie Detector Test and The Forecaster Game as well as PC material such as wallpapers and screensavers.[59][60] The region 2 edition of the DVD was released on October 22, 2001. A region 1 “Bonus Edition” was released on December 14, 2004 and contains three additional featurettes: Silly Cat TricksThe Truth About Lying and a 12-minute-long Jay Roach: A Director’s Profile.



The original motion picture soundtrack for the film was released on September 26, 2000 on the DreamWorks Records record label. The soundtrack features 14 original compositions by Randy Newman as well as additional tracks by Bobby Womack, Lee Dorsey, and Dr. John and a hidden bonus track. Newman’s original song “A Fool in Love” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song—Newman’s 14th Oscar nomination —at the 73rd Academy Awards but it ultimately lost to Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” for Wonder Boys.

For the same song, Newman also won the 16th Annual ASCAP Film & Television Music Award in the Top Box Office Films category and was nominated at the 5th Golden Satellite Awards in the Original Song category. Dan Goldwasser, in his review of the soundtrack for Soundtrack.Net, gave credit to Newman and the soundtrack for doing “an excellent job keeping the humor level high.”

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Meet the Parents (2000) Critical Response

Meet the Parents received a generally positive response from film critics, being commended on the subtlety of its humor as well as being named as “the funniest” or “one of the funniest” films of the year by several critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 84% of 148 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.9/10.

The website’s consensus reads, “Despite sometimes sitcom-like execution, Meet the Parents is a hilarious look at familial relationships that works mostly because the chemistry between its two leads is so effective.”[76] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 73 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.[77] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average rating of “A−” on an A+ to F scale.

Kenneth Turan, film critic for Los Angeles Times, called it “the funniest film of the year so far, possibly the most amusing mainstream live-action comedy since There’s Something About Mary.” Critic Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal stated that the film “does almost everything right with a story about everything going wrong”[71] and that it “works up a major comic delirium on the theme of Murphy’s Law”,concluding that “Meet the Parents is the funniest movie of the year.”

CNN’s Paul Clinton proclaimed “Meet the Parents is one of the best comedies of this—or any other—year”,[73] calling it “wonderfully funny”[73] and expressing his hope that “the Academy will also recognize this wonderful movie, something it rarely does when it comes to comedies.” Time magazine’s film critic Richard Schickel stated that it was “divinely invented and perfectly orchestrated”.

He complimented the screenplay by calling the screenwriters Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg “a couple of skilled tool-and-die makers”[79] as well as the acting cast because he believed that they “understand that palpable reality will always trump frenzied fantasy when it comes to getting laughs.” Schickel concluded his review by proclaiming Meet the Parents a “superbly antic movie”.[79] Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine called the film “flat-out hilarious”[80] and Neil Smith of BBC proclaimed that “there’s not a weak scene in this super-funny picture”

while awarding it a rating of five stars out of five.[81] Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three stars out of four comparing it to Roach’s previous work on the Austin Powers film series and offering his opinion that “[Meet the Parents] is funnier because it never tries too hard.” Critic Christopher Null of AMC’s claimed that “Meet the Parents is one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen since Annie Hall“.

Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly called the script “unforced” and concluded that it “goes down like a flute of Champagne, leaving an aftertaste of giggles.”

However, Internet film critic James Berardinelli, in spite of awarding it two-and-a-half stars out of four, gave the film a somewhat scathing review. On his website, Berardinelli wrote that “Meet the Parents is put together like a TV sit-com,”[82] that Roach “strings together a series of hit-and-miss lowbrow gags with little care for whether any of the connecting material is coherent, interesting, or enjoyable (in most cases, it’s none of those three)” and concluding that “even with Stiller and De Niro, Meet the Parents is an encounter that can be postponed until it’s available on video.”

Jeff Vice of the Deseret News, another detractor of the film, proclaimed Meet the Parents “only erratically funny”[83] and accused Roach of taking “the cheap way out with a series of unfunny jokes.” Critic Peter Bradshaw’s review of it in The Guardian concludes that “It is somehow less than the sum of its parts. It strains to come to life, but never quite makes it.”

After it was released on home media, DVD reviewer and Rolling Stone magazine contributor Douglas Pratt in his book Doug Pratt’s DVD: Movies, Television, Music, Art, Adult, and More! stated that “perhaps in the crowded theater the film is hysterical, but in the quieter venue of home video, it just seems sadistic, and as the humor evaporates, the holes in the plot become clearer.”


Meet the Parents (2000) Accolades

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[85] Best Original Song “A Fool in Love”
Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
American Comedy Awards Funniest Motion Picture Nominated
Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) Robert De Niro Nominated
Ben Stiller Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Randy Newman Won
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards[86] Favorite Actor – Comedy/Romance Robert De Niro Nominated
Ben Stiller Nominated
Favorite Supporting Actor – Comedy Owen Wilson Nominated
Favorite Supporting Actress – Comedy Blythe Danner Nominated
Favorite Female – Newcomer Teri Polo Nominated
Bogey Awards Bogey Award Won
Golden Globe Awards[87] Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Robert De Niro Nominated
Golden Screen Awards Golden Screen Won
Golden Trailer Awards Best Comedy Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards[88] Best Original Song “Meet the Parents”
Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
MTV Movie Awards Best Comedic Performance Ben Stiller Won
Best On-Screen Team Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller Nominated
Best Line “Are You a Pothead, Focker?” – Robert De Niro Won
People’s Choice Awards Favorite Comedy Motion Picture Won
Satellite Awards[89] Best Original Song “A Fool in Love”
Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie – Comedy Nominated
Choice Movie – Actor Ben Stiller Nominated



Meet the Parents (2000) Movie Info

Everything that can possibly go wrong for groom-to-be Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) does. The problems begin with Greg’s disastrous first meeting with his girlfriend’s family — most notably her intimidating father Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) and it’s all downhill from there.


WATCH Meet the Parents (2000)

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