Home > Reviews > MEET THE PARENTS – Randy Newman

MEET THE PARENTS – Randy Newman

meettheparentsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Daft comedies have never been my favorite genre, but I have to admit Meet the Parents made me laugh – a lot. It is surely one of the most nerve-wracking days of any young man’s life when he goes home to meet his fiancé’s folks. First impressions count for a lot, and if the woman you are with is the one you intend to marry, having a healthy relationship with her family is of paramount importance. All these things are weighing heavily on nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller)’s mind when he accompanies his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo) home to meet her retired mother Dina and father Jack (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner). Unfortunately, Greg’s weekend plans for presenting himself as the “model son” go seriously awry in the face of her father’s overbearing presence. You see, Jack is not a florist, as Greg first believed: he is, in fact, a former CIA agent – who takes his daughter’s marital welfare very seriously!

The comedy in Meet the Parents is not subtle. Much of it revolves around Greg’s surname, comedy pratfalls, people being covered in mud, and so on and so forth. But director Jay Roach handles the action with broad, deft brush strokes, allowing you to laugh at Greg’s plight while secretly being glad you’re not in it. Films which lace their humor with a sense of discomfort and cringe-worthy unease are popular nowadays, especially since the box-office success of Farrelly Brothers films such as There’s Something About Mary and Me Myself and Irene. Stiller and De Niro are terrific comic foils, whoever trained Jinx the cat should receive a special Oscar all of his own, and there’s a superbly smarmy cameo from the consistently brilliant Owen Wilson as Pam’s former boyfriend, a sensitive Hamptons socialite with a penchant for woodcrafts.

The ironic playfulness in Randy Newman’s songs re-emerge again here in his original work, ‘A Fool in Love’, which begins with a soothing female choir chirruping “Look at the light coming round the Earth” and “Look at that boy sitting on the moon” while the audiences watches the respective logos of Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures, before leaping off with a toe-tapping bossa-nova beat and Newman’s patented idiosyncratic vocal style and caustic lyrics. Sheer genius. Newman lends his dulcet tones to two other songs, cover versions of Fats Domino’s “Poor Me” and the Jimmy Smith classic “Got My Mojo Working”, and concludes the album with a hilariously brilliant “bonus track” duet of “A Fool In Love” with Susanna Hoffs, sung in sexy French, complete with accordions!

As far as the underscore is concerned, for the most part it is light, gentle, and airy – one part Awakenings, one part Pleasantville, with little bits of the quiet parts of A Bug’s Life thrown in for good measure. The opening cue, ‘Give Me a Sign’ recapitulates the innocent music from the beginning of the song, and there are some lovely moments for the orchestra and a female choir, both in this cue and in others such as. ‘Wrong Cat’ is Newman’s own brand of hero-music – (un)surprisingly taking its cue from John Williams, but surprisingly similar to that which James Horner wrote for Battle Beyond the Stars back in 1980.

There is lots of heartfelt twinkling going on in much of the score, as well as a great deal of “sneaking around” emanating from the deepest recesses of the orchestra in cues such as ‘Greg Loses Jinx’. These are counterbalanced by occasional moments of “serious comedy”, like the subtle menace of ‘Could You Milk Me?’ and the surprisingly large-scale ‘Burning Down the House’ and ‘The Car Race’, which underscore two of the film’s central set pieces.

Overall, Meet the Parents is a lightweight work with one superb song and a few decent moments buried beneath a functional, if a little uninspired score. Newman’s music is actually quite low in the sound mix, and is almost inaudible when presented in the cinema, meaning that this album is likely to provide the best representation of his work. Fans of Newman’s work should take note, but others should be prepared to be rather underwhelmed.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • A Fool in Love (written and performed by Randy Newman) (2:16)
  • Poor Me (written by Antoine “Fats” Domino and Dave Bartholomew, performed by Randy Newman) (1:33)
  • Got My Mojo Working (written by Preston Foster, performed by Randy Newman) (1:57)
  • Give Me a Sign (3:20)
  • Meet the Parents (2:39)
  • Could You Milk Me? (2:38)
  • Greg Loses Jinx (1:47)
  • Burning Down the House (1:55)
  • Wrong Cat (1:05)
  • The Car Race (2:47)
  • Broken Hearted (1:13)
  • Pam’s Problem (1:49)
  • Jack to the Rescue (1:05)
  • Together Again (1:18)
  • I’m Your Puppet (written by Lindon Oldham and Dan Penn, performed by Bobby Womack) (3:31)
  • Ya Ya (written by Morris Levy, Clarence Lewis and Lee Dorsey, performed by Lee Dorsey) (2:36)
  • Big Chief (written by Earl King, performed by Dr. John) (3:25)
  • Bonus Track: Fou d’Amour (written by Randy Newman, performed by Randy Newman and Susanna Hoffs) (2:27)

Running Time: 39 minutes 25 seconds

Dreamworks 450-286-2 (2000)

Music composed and conducted by Randy Newman. Orchestrations by Jonathan Sacks, Don Davis and Randy Newman. Recorded and mixed by Frank Wolf. Edited by Bruno Coon. Mastered by Doug Sax. Album produced by Frank Wolf, Bruno Coon and Randy Newman.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.