Meet the Fockers
Opened December 22, 2004
The sequel to Meet the Parents marked Barbra’s return to the silver screen in her 17th major motion picture. Meet the Fockers started filming in Los Angeles late April 2004. After wrapping in August, the film entered its post-production phase and was delivered to audiences December 2004.
Screenwriters Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio, who did five rewrites of the Fockers script between June 2003 and January 2004, were on the set doing any last-minute changes. John Hamburg, also credited with writing Fockers, told the New Jersey Star Ledger how he rewrote the script for Streisand. He said he “looked back at all these old movies of hers like Owl and the Pussycat and What's Up, Doc?. She's funny, and she's got great comic timing. So this is a callback to that era of Barbra Streisand."
Photos of Barbra in costume as Mrs. Focker were shown on the entertainment television show “Extra”. The photos confirmed that Barbra was “in character” for this film: she wore a brown, frizzy wig and “hippie” clothes. The photos were snapped on May 4th, 2004 while Barbra and costars Blythe Danner and Teri Polo filmed a shopping scene in Pasadena. On May 5th she returned to the location and filmed scenes inside the BCBG MAXAZRIA store. Employees of the store, which was closed for the film crew, said Barbra even bought some clothes. Liz Smith also reported that Barbra visited L.A.’s Portofino Sun Spa and got herself a spray-on tan to appear bronzed like a Floridian.
In May 2004, Teri Polo’s publicist started placing stories in the news. In one story, Polo spoke about Barbra’s gift to the cast during her first days on the set. Actors, especially legends like Streisand, often begin film shoots by exchanging “good will” gifts to ease the nervousness of working together. Polo confessed, "She gave me a white chocolate lollipop in the shape of a breast.” Barbra’s gift was her way of showing her fellow cast mates she was OK with what Polo called “the film’s naughty scenes.” A cute story about Polo’s nickname for Barbra also made the news. Polo started calling Streisand “boob” on the set. “She answers to it too—just ask her,” Polo stated.
As usual, tabloid news spread, too. One gossip column had Barbra storming off the set. Of course, she had not even begun filming yet! Another story told how Dustin Hoffman called Streisand “Barb” (which she hates) and equipped the crew with “Bush 2004” buttons to irk her. Another far-fetched but curious story had Barbra hiring a hypnotist to help her get some sleep.
Meet the Fockers’ official publicity started toward the end of May 2004. An official web site was created (www.meetthefockers.com) and a cast photo was released to the wire services. The official picture confirmed Barbra and Dustin’s character names: Roz and Bernie Focker.
More details about Barbra’s character emerged while filming continued. One of the houses at the Los Angeles County Arboretum (the “Queen Anne Cottage”) was transformed by the film crew into the Focker’s Florida home. They repainted the house and dressed it with more foliage. Barbra’s publicist told All About Barbra magazine an amusing story about some of the public spotting Barbra on the set. "Barbra was returning to her trailer, and there were a group or people who had brought along their children. Barbra passed right by them. Suddenly, they realized who it was and began dancing!"
Meanwhile, Director Jay Roach talked to USA Today about working with Streisand and Hoffman: "Dustin and Barbra should have been a comedy team. They have great comic timing. They could have done vaudeville or I Love Lucy or even Tracy-Hepburn stuff." When the Fockers and Byrnes meet for the first time over cocktails, Barbra improvised some funny business, according to Roach. "Dustin is giving a toast, and Barbra starts to sip," Roach explained. "He tells her, 'You can't drink yet,' so she spits out the drink, ice cube and all, into her glass and says, 'Oh, sorry.' It was a little bit of controlled chaos but in the most delicious way."
Much of Fockers’ humor comes from the clash of two very different sets of parents. According to Jay Roach, the Fockers are touchy-feely people, which will make DeNiro’s character uncomfortable. "They're very open about what they feel and think, and some of it's inappropriate,” Roach explained. Streisand, whose character is a couple’s sex therapist, will meddle with the Byrnes’ sex life, surely ruffling Jack Byrnes’ feathers! Stiller elaborated to Film Monthly: “She's like the Earthy, cool, sex therapist for seniors, which is what she does in the movie. So she lets it all hang out and just looks great. She's got this dark, curly wig, reminding me of a lot of moms from the upper west side in the 70's that I grew up with."
Meet the Fockers was a commercial success. It is in the box office record books as the highest grossing live action comedy of all time, earning over $516 Million dollars during its theatrical release.
An early trailer for Meet the Fockers included a scene of Barbra, as Roz Focker, boogeying at a party.
Although the shot was only a few seconds long, it was not included in the final film.
‘Fockers’on Home Video
Blu-ray Bonus Features:
- Feature Commentary: director Jay Roach and editior/co-producer Jon Poll
- Deleted Scenes (SD; 15:45)
- Bloopers (SD; 11:03)
- Inside the Litter Box: Behind the Scenes with Jinx the Cat (SD; 4:02)
- The Manary Gland (SD; 3:05)
- Fockers' Family Portrait (SD; 5:59) is split into separate brief chapters on Greg, Roz and Bernie, with the principle actors talking about their characters.
- The Adventures of a Baby Wrangler (SD; 5:32) about the twins who play Little Jack.
- Matt Lauer Meets the Fockers (SD; 7:57)
Although Barbra Streisand shared screen time in Meet the Fockers with several other big-name stars, there is plenty of bonus material on the 2005 DVD featuring her to keep Barbra fans entertained.
Streisand appeared in several deleted scenes. You first see her in a quick “capper” to the opening scene in which she asks actor Shelley Berman what yoga position he’s in. Berman replies, “Lassy come home”. There is also an extended dinner scene in which Greg’s scrapbook keepsake takes a longer trip before plunging into the fondue; a warm up football game in which Barbra watches with the other girls at the lawn table; and a funny scene in which Jack’s investigative snooping uncovers a “Dr. Roz.com” website that sells sex toys for seniors. At the wedding, an extra scene shows Jack and Dina thanking Roz for teaching them some new “yoga” moves. The Focker relatives scene (with Dom Focker) is included, as well as the deleted scene in which Ben Stiller appears as Jorge’s father (wearing character makeup).
The bloopers go by fast but you can see Streisand, De Niro, and Hoffman laughing during the lagoon scene. Barbra also loses it during the fondue dinner scene. Blythe Danner adlibs, “She has a contagious laugh.” This point is made again when, in another blooper, Streisand swallows some liquid and begins to laugh, fearful that she’ll spit it out. Next, De Niro holds up four different versions of Roz’s sex book. Hoffman and Stiller have a cute blooper with Barbra in which, during a hug, she ad libs, “I wanna be the cheese” and they sandwich her in the middle. Finally, while dancing at the wedding, Hoffman drops his pants and Barbra hikes her skirt up! The wedding crowd laughs hysterically along with the two superstars.
The DVD also contained a commentary track with director Jay Roach and editor/co-producer Jon Poll. Their comments were interesting, and they concentrate on Streisand in several places. When discussing Barbra’s opening scene in which she was shown doing stretches with her derriere facing the camera, Poll said, “[Streisand] had come in the cutting room and Jay just wanted to make sure [the shot] was okay. She was great about it. She said, ‘Sure, it’s funny, go for it!’”
Jay Roach elaborated, “People had high expectations about what Barbra Streisand would do in her first film in a long time. She loved the idea of teasing them and having a specific reveal of her face after she’d been waving her hips around for a few minutes.”
Describing the Roz Focker look, Roach said, “Barbra was completely open and flexible [about her look in the film]. I was worried that she might have a very specific, kind of iconic ‘Barbra Streisand look’. I really wanted people to forget that it was Barbra Streisand altogether, if possible. She had the same instinct, so we changed the hair -- she modeled her hair after Dustin’s wife, Lisa.”
There’s also a “Family Album” in the Bonus Features section. After selecting “Roz Focker”, you can view interview footage of Streisand talking about the movie. Universal included an abbreviated version of the Matt Lauer Dateline interview, which originally aired on ABC.
Behind the Scenes
I interviewed makeup artist David DeLeon, —who did Streisand's makeup for Fockers—in All About Barbra magazine #63. That issue also features Matt's interviews with Wendy Pickren, mother of the twins who played Little Jack, and Ray Santiago, who played Jorge Villalobos.
DeLeon shared his “continuity sheet” for Streisand's makeup design on Fockers with the Barbra Archives.
In 2009, Streisand auctioned several of her Fockers costumes, with the proceeds going to charity.
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