Nobody goes to a movie called "Little Fockers" expecting Noel Coward, or a return to the Golden Age comedy of Frank Capra.
But even by the franchise's own declining standards, "Fockers" is a wince-a-thon of crude gag sausage-making: A boy vomits in Ben Stiller's face, Barbra Streisand delivers a speech about unilateral stimulation, Jessica Alba administers an enema.
Not the shrewdest use of Alba, I must say.
It's nice, in a way, to know that Oscar-winning stars like Streisand and Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman are willing to take a break from prestige filmmaking to give us all a few vulgar holiday laughs.
But a little sad, too, that Hollywood can't give them something better to do. It's one thing to see De Niro go against type as a suburban retiree in "Meet The Parents," quite another to see him in "Fockers" popping Viagra and suffering a four-hour bout of tumescence, which Stiller must relieve by shooting a syringe of Adrenalin directly into the erstwhile goodfella's junk.
What made "Meet The Parents" so funny was the idea of De Niro in corduroy and cardigans, like some descendant of Ward Cleaver. "Fockers" loses that thread completely, and instead has De Niro making "Airplane" style in-jokes about Vito Corleone, asking his son-in-law if he wants to be the "God-Focker."