A $1 Billion Raunchy Comedy Franchise Just Arrived on Netflix
It’s time to meet the Fockers all over again.
- Three movies make up the Fockers series.
- Although critics liked them less as they went on, the movies never stopped appealing to crowds at the box office.
- The first movie was actually based on a 1992 black comedy.
- The studio had a very different actor in mind to play Greg Focker.
Nobody could have anticipated that a silly, raunchy movie about meeting your in-laws would result in one of the most lucrative comedy trilogies ever made. But the Ben Stiller / Robert de Niro remake of a little-known film grossed $55 million in its first eleven days and went on to have a $1.15 billion legacy.
Movie 1: Meet the Parents
Greg Focker, an awkward but well-meaning nurse, travels to Long Island with his girlfriend Pam. There they stay with her parents, who are preparing for the wedding of Pam’s sister Debbie.
It’s Greg’s first time meeting Pam’s parents, and her father Jack (an ex-CIA agent) has always taken against her boyfriends. This isn’t helped by Greg, who through a series of unfortunate events manages to blacken Debbie’s eye, flood the yard with sewage, lose the family cat, and set the altar on fire. Meanwhile, Jack uses his CIA contacts to investigate Greg, whom he believes to be a fraud.
Movie 2: Meet the Fockers
The success of Meet the Parents led to 2004’s Meet the Fockers. Here, Pam’s uptight suburban parents are confronted with Greg’s hippie-dippie folks (played with aplomb by Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman).
Although Meet the Fockers didn’t have the surprise charm of the original, the star-studded cast still managed to make a splash.
Movie 3: Little Fockers
Five years after the events of Meet the Fockers, Greg and Pam are married with kids. Of course, a visit from Greg’s in-laws causes another round of raucous mishaps, including Jack taking an erectile dysfunction pill that works a little too well.
The already stacked cast added even more stars this time around, including Jessica Alba and Harvey Keitel. Although critics bashed the film (it has a terrible 9% on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences loved it enough to bring in $310 million at the box office.
Did You Know?
You probably had no idea that Meet the Parents is actually a remake of a 1992 black comedy of the same name. The original Meet the Parents was a much darker, more satirical takedown of marriage and suburban life, but it was also a tiny independent movie shot on a budget of $100,000. (The Ben Stiller remake had a budget of $11 million.)
Although Meet the Parents was never given a wide release, it gathered some critical attention and Universal Pictures bought the rights to the original screenplay. The studio then hired screenwriter Jim Herzfeld to adapt the project, and Jay Roach was brought on as the director.
Roach had previously had a major commercial success with 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
Almost a Different Film
It’s hard to imagine anyone else starring as Greg Focker. Ben Stiller is perfect for the role because he can play bumbling, ridiculous characters while still coming across as a normal guy that you can relate to.
Things were almost very different though – the role of Greg was originally slated to be played by Jim Carrey. When Carrey was attached, the film had a lot more slapstick attached to it, which got toned down when the star departed for other projects.
Carrey did leave a joke behind, however. According to legend, he was the one who suggested that the main character be named Greg Focker.
In total, the Fockers trilogy grossed $1.15 billion at the box office. It also ushered in a new renaissance for Robert de Niro, who had previously been famous for his tough-guy roles in dramas and crime thrillers.
Will there ever be a fourth Fockers movie? At the moment there are no plans for one, but never say never.