Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Adventures in Baby-Sitting

Uncle Buck
Director: John Hughes
Cast: John Candy, Macaulay Culkin, Jean Louisa Kelly, Gaby Hoffman, Amy Madigan, Laurie Metcalf
Released: August 16, 1989

This is a movie I haven't seen since I was a kid and I've probably only seen it a couple times which is probably why I have no nostalgic attachment to it. I know a lot of people who were kids/teens when it came out love it, but despite a couple of funny scenes, I wasn't overly fond of it. I did not find the titular Uncle Buck (John Candy) to be charming at all. This movie, which was directed and written by John Hughes, is probably best known for giving him the inspiration to write Home Alone and have Macaulay Culkin (who plays Buck's nephew) star in it. Probably one of the more well-known scenes in this movie is when Macaulay is asking John Candy a bunch of questions, rapid fire. We learn that thirty-eight is his record for most consecutive questions asked. 

Uncle Buck is called upon to watch his brother's and sister-in-law's kids when his sister-in-law's dad has a heart attack and they need to go to Indianapolis to see him. Buck is their last option because their neighbors are out of town. The Russell family recently moved from there to a suburb of Chicago and fifteen-year-old Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly) is not happy about it. She is a surly teen, the typical teen girl from every '80s movies. (Harry and the Hendersons is another good example of this). She is really nasty to her young siblings, Miles (Culkin) and Maizy (Gaby Hoffman). I mean, she almost makes Buzz McCallister look like an upstanding older brother! She also doesn't take too kindly to her Uncle Buck.

I did think it was funny when Buck, who lives in Chicago, is driving to their house and going over the kids. He thinks Tia is probably nine or ten by now and can't remember the "other ones'" names,  thinking they're either Larry and Betsy or Larry and Jennifer. This makes it very obvious he hasn't seen his brother in awhile. Mrs. Russell has never been fond of Buck because he almost burned their house down. In a later scene, Buck will find a wedding photo of them with the photo folded and he discovers it has been folded to hide him. I almost feel bad for him, but at the same time, I don't blame Mrs. Russell for doing that because if I had a brother-in-law like Buck, he would probably irritate the s**t out of me!

Buck's brother asks him to come as soon as he can, so he arrives in the middle of the night and the parents just leave without even saying goodbye to their kids, which is really weird. I mean, at least the McCallisters honestly just forgot about Macaulay, but in this movie, his parents knowingly leave him and his siblings without saying good-bye! Since they left so urgently, you would think Mrs. Russell's father was on his death bed, but I think he was okay at the end of the movie. I was surprised that she gave Buck a blank check, instead of just giving him a set amount in cash. Yes, maybe she didn't have enough money on her, but still... you would think a guy with no job and who likes to gamble would take advantage of that blank check, but it actually doesn't go anywhere. I don't think he accepts it anyway, just tells her he'll use his own money.

One of the best gags of the movie is when Buck has arrived at the house and is looking around the living room. He accidentally knocks a plate off a mantle, but it doesn't break. He thinks it's an unbreakable dish and smashes it against the piano to prove his point, I guess, but of course it smashes into a million pieces.

You would think that since Buck was the last person the Russells wanted to baby-sit their kids, he would be terrible with the kids, but he's actually very responsible with them...for the most part! He makes sure they get to school on time, bush their teeth, etc. He's not great at packing school lunches, though, because he gives Miles a cucumber, a pickled egg, sardines, and a jar of milk in his sack lunch. He sure doesn't know how to take care of dogs, though, because he feeds the Russells' dog four or five times a day and gives it beer to drink!

The two younger kids take a liking to him, but he and Tia butt heads right away. When Buck drives all the kids to school, she is embarrassed to be seen in his car which is a hunk of junk that leaves a trail of smoke wherever it goes and backfires everytime it stops, making everyone think that a gun has gone off. He asks Tia what time he should pick her up and she tells him she'll get a ride with a friend. He doesn't accept this, tells her he can call the school and find out when she gets out. He says that if she's not there then he'll drive her to school tomorrow in his pajamas and robe and walk her to her first class. See, if I were him, I would have let her get a ride from a friend and if she wasn't home by four, then I would pick her up from school from then on. I know Tia is awful and is rude towards her uncle, but I don't think Buck is helping with things either. His goofing off and childish charm may work for the younger kids, but it's not doing any favors for him with Tia. He treats her like a little kid. Things don't go any better when he picks her up and sees her kissing her boyfriend, Bug. Now Bug is a total douche (with a name like that, you would have to be!), but he overreacts when he sees them kissing. John Hughes must have thought teens love kissing their boyfriends/girlfriends in front of their parents (or any other relative) because this also happens in The Breakfast Club alwhen Molly Ringwald kisses her charming new beau (yes, that was sarcasm) in front of her dad. Tia is kissing Bug because she knows it pisses off Buck, and she'll do this again in a later scene.   

One thing I don't understand about Buck is that he has no problem giving Tia ultimatums (he tells her she can go bowling with them or get her head shaved), but can't seem to discipline the younger kids. When they both want to sleep in the same bed with him, he lets them, letting them take up all the space so he had to sleep on the floor. For Miles' birthday, he makes a stack of pancakes the size of garbage lids. (He has to use a shovel to flip them over, for god's sake!) At first I thought he was making a giant pizza. When he is called to the school to talk to the principal because Maizy said a bad word, he defends her and pretty much tells the principal, who's a horrible old lady who has a stick  up her butt (and a huge wart on her chin) to pretty much go f**k herself. Actually, that may have been better than what he actually said which was, "Take this quarter, go downtown, and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face!" I mean, I know the old lady was terrible, but I think he may have crossed the line there.

There's a couple of sexual innuendos that went right over my head as a kid. One of them is when the neighbor, Marcy (played by Laurie Metcalf aka Aunt Jackie from Roseanne) comes over while Buck is in the laundry room with the door closed. He's trying to get the washing machine lid to open, but all she hears is a bunch of banging and him saying things like, "Open up for daddy" and "I'm gonna shove my load into you whether you like it or not!" Yeah.... Then, there's another scene where Buck is talking to his girlfriend, Chanice (Amy Madigan) on the phone and he starts mentioning how he gave names to certain parts of her body, like the dimples on her butt are named "Lyndon" and "Johnson" and her breasts were named "Mickey" and "Minnie" after they spent some time in Disney World. I don't even want to know that story, but it actually gets worse. He proceeds to say, "And Felix was what we called your-" It then goes to another scene where we see a cat meowing. Ugh, movie! Did you really go there? And why would you give a male name to a female part of the body? Never mind, let's move on. This is disturbing.

I don't mean to sound mean, but I was surprised Buck had a girlfriend. He obviously doesn't take care of himself, he doesn't have a job, his personality is grating, he's been with her for eight years and won't commit to her. She wants marriage and kids, but he's not into that. I really don't understand why she's still with him. When Tia finds out that Buck has a girlfriend she take advantage of this information and uses it to get back at him when Chanice calls and Tia tells her he's with Marcy and they usually stay out late. 

When we first meet Marcy, she is wearing the most hideous outfit that any movie character in movie history has ever worn: brown boots, brown stockings, brown leather skirt (obviously fake leather), gold and brown blouse, brown leather vest made out of the same material as the skirt, and a brown and gold headband. I mean, this outfit is HIDEOUS! I did love when she introduced herself to Buck: "Marcy Dahlgren-Frost...Frost is my married name. I'm single again, but I never bothered to lose the Frost." She is very rigid and formal when she says it, so it's a great play-on words. However, in the next scene we see her in, she's coming on to Buck and dancing with him, so what the hell happened to her being cold and aloof? Of course, when they're dancing, Chanice chooses that moment to come over and sees them and accuses Buck of cheating on her. He soon realizes that Tia had something to do with it when she tells him, "It hurts when someone screws with your life, doesn't it?" Not cool, Tia!

Tia does come around to her Uncle Buck when she realizes he was right about Bug only wanting one thing. When he finds out that she snuck out of a house to attend a party, he goes to get her while asking Chanice to watch the kids. This is after their fight, but Chanice only agrees to do it because there are kids involved. Buck finds the house the party is at where the teens are listening to the current hit (in 1989!) "Bust a Move". He finds a locked bedroom where he believes his niece and Bug are in and gets in by drilling through the doorknob. It is revealed that the girl Bug is with is NOT Tia, so Bug is a huger douche, cheating on his girlfriend. Although, they had probably broken up after Tia wouldn't have sex with him, so he just went after the first girl he saw. They trick the audience by showing Bug making out with a girl on the bed with curly hair, but you never see her face until she sits up in bed (luckily she wasn't naked!) when Buck enters. I was wondering why she was passively whispering, "Stop it, please" and "I don't want to do this" as she lay there like a ragdoll as she lets Bug take off her pants. It now makes sense since it was a different girl so they had her whisper so the voice wouldn't give it away she wasn't Tia. If it had been Tia, she would have been much more assertive and probably would have kneed him in the balls. Nothing happens between Bug and the girl, but this doesn't stop Buck from kidnapping him and throwing him in the trunk of the car (we never do see how this happens!) Buck really hated Bug. Not only did he threaten to murder him (or, you know, castrate him with a hatchet), after he lets him out of the car, he hits him twice with a golfball. It's surprising that he didn't suffer a concussion or die!

Tia confesses to Chanice about the lie she told her and Buck and Chanice get back together. The parents come home the next day and everyone is happy and Tia has a new favorite uncle.

Just think: Macaulay Culkin can thank this movie (or John Hughes, really) for letting him retire at the ripe old age of 14! (Yeah, I know he did a few movies when he was older, but you know what I mean!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cooking Class

No Reservations
Director: Scott Hicks
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson
Released: July 27, 2007
Viewed in theaters: August 4, 2007

I haven't seen this movie since the theaters, so the only thing I really remembered was the rivalry between chefs Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Nick (Aaron Eckhart), although the rivalry seemed to be one-sided, and that they fall in love. (But even if I had never seen the movie, I could tell you that was going to happen). I had completely forgotten that Abigail Breslin was in this and plays Kate's niece, Zoe, who she takes in after Zoe's mom, Kate's sister, unexpectedly dies in a car accident. This is the second movie Abigail Breslin has been in where she plays a young kid who loses her parents in a car accident (her dad is out of the picture in this movie) and has to be raised by her aunt. She was also in Raising Helen where that happens and she and her two other siblings have to be raised by Kate Hudson. At least in this movie, she's an only child and CZJ is older and more mature and makes a steady income as a chef. (Although didn't Kate Hudson have some fabulous job working at a fashion magazine in NYC...God, that movie was so f**king stupid!) 

When we first meet Kate, she's been seeing a therapist. She tells him her boss makes her see him and hasn't the "faintest idea why" she needs to see a therapist, but it's soon clear to the viewer why she may need to see one. She is the head chef at a trendy Manhattan restaurant called Bleeker 22. Her job is her life and she takes it seriously.  She is very focused on her job and wants everything to be perfect, so she usually ends up doing everything herself, coordinating all the dishes so they're perfect. I have to say, watching this made me super hungry! There are some delicious looking dishes in this, especially that pasta dish that Nick makes for Zoe. The desserts look mouth-watering too, although they also look much too gorgeous to ruin! If I had to choose my favorite movie that revolves around food, it would be Chef

Kate hates leaving the kitchen, even to talk to customers who love her food and want to compliment her, but her boss, the owner of the restaurant, Paula (Patricia Clarkson) makes her go out to the dining room to talk to her admirers. However, she does not take well to any criticism and we see an example of this when a customer tells her that his foie gras isn't cooked properly. This is a dish that Kate has cooked probably well over a hundred times in her life and she knows it's properly cooked. She even tells him exactly how she cooked it. The guy tells her he's going to go somewhere else and she insults his intelligence by telling him there's a hot dog stand down the street. Her boss, who witnessed the whole thing, tells her that if she wasn't one of the best chefs in the city, she would have fired her a long time ago because apparently this wasn't the first time Kate had gotten into an argument with a customer. Paula tells her she needs to remember that "the customer is always right." Whoever came up with that motto needs to be bitch-slapped, because, you know what? The customer is NOT always right. Sometimes the customer needs a giant dose of reality like this guy did.

Kate is expecting her sister and her niece, Zoe, to arrive for a visit, but on the way, they get into a car accident and Kate's sister dies. Kate goes to visit Zoe in the hospital and tells her that her mother is dead, although Zoe already knew that. Kate goes back to work the next day, surprising everyone because they thought she was going to take a few days off. When Paula catches Kate crying in the cooler, she orders Kate to take a week off. It does make sense that Kate would want to go back to work after a tragic event because work is her life and it's something she can focus on and not think about her sister's death. I would imagine if you took a week off after someone close to you died, it's all you would think about and you would almost want something to distract you. However, Kate doesn't have much time to be distracted by her sister's death because she's now the sole guardian of Zoe (something she knew about since Zoe was born as we see in a letter she reads from her sister..unlike Kate Hudson in Raising Helen who had no idea she would be the guardian of her sister's kids). Although, I feel like if your dead sister's daughter was living with you and you were now raising her, then all you would think about was your dead sister. Everyday when you woke up and fed your niece breakfast, you would think, Oh, yeah, my niece lives with me because my sister is dead. Or when you take your niece to her first day of school, you would think, I have to take my niece to school because my sister is dead. Geeze, this got really depressing. Not to mention that Kate is reminded of her sister every time Zoe brings out a photo book of her and her mom.

I have no idea where Zoe and her mom were from; I'm guessing upstate. Or maybe New Jersey or Connecticut. It was in driving distance of Manhattan, at least. Zoe has to start at a new school and has to wake up Kate so they're not late. The school starts at, get this, nine o'clock. NINE O'CLOCK!!! Is this a real thing? Do schools actually start at 9:00 in Manhattan and if so why couldn't I have grown up in Manhattan and gone to a school that starts at nine, rather than eight? Surprisingly, even though their school doesn't even start super early (and anyone who says that nine am is early needs to STFU right now!) they are still late because Kate sleeps in. (I can't really blame her because most morning she wakes up super early to go to a fish market). Despite that, they probably would have made it on time, but Zoe insists she can't leave without her scarf, even though Kate tells her she can borrow one of hers and they'll look for it later. Zoe needs to have her scarf, not just any scarf, but a certain one. So while Kate is going through her boxes, Zoe is just sitting there, watching her. This kid is, what? Eight, nine, ten years old? She is old enough to help her aunt look for the damn scarf!

When Kate goes to the restaurant during her required week off to check on things, she discovers that Paula has hired a new chef, Nick, who is trained in Italian cooking. He is very different from the no-nonsense Kate who keeps order in her kitchen. He's joking around and singing Italian opera music, telling the other cooks to join in with him and everyone is smiling and having a good time. This infuriates Kate because she thinks Nick is trying to steal her place. Like I mentioned earlier, this rivalry is one-sided because Nick has no intention of doing that and just wants to work with a great chef like Kate. He even tells her that he'll leave unless she tells him to stay. Paula pleads with her to get along with Nick and Kate grudgingly tells Nick that he can stay.

Even though (probably moments before she died) Kate's sister told her that Zoe "eats anything, she's a vacuum cleaner", Kate finds that not to be true. Zoe doesn't seem to have much of an appetite. It probably doesn't help that she just recently lost her mother at such a young age, but it also probably doesn't help that Kate would do horribly if she were on Top Chef and the challenge was to feed a group of school children. She makes Zoe a fish dinner where the entire fish still intact, head and all. I'm not sure I would want to eat something that was staring back at me. Even though I like fish, that dish didn't look appealing to me, so I can't blame Zoe asking to be excused.

Kate brings Zoe to work with her where she just hangs around, out of the way, while the other chefs work. This is when Nick makes the aforementioned pasta dish which she gobbles up. Zoe is often brought to the restaurant where she ends up helping with peeling vegetables or whatnot. At one point, when Kate is away from the station, Zoe takes a whiff of one of the two truffles laying on the cutting board and throws them both away. Luckily, the garbage is only full of vegetable peels, so Kate is able to fish them out and use them since there weren't any used Kleenex or anything really disgusting in there. I've never had truffles in my life (it's possible I've had truffle oil, but I know it's nowhere near the same thing!), but I know they're super expensive. When Kate is dealing with the truffle seller (who is obviously selling them illegally because during the scene, another cook, who is pregnant, starts to go into labor and when Kate tells him to dial 911, he says, "No police!") he tells her the white truffles are $2200 a pound!

When Zoe is working in the kitchen, all I can think of is, there's got to be some child labor law that wouldn't allow that. Sure enough, in a later scene, Zoe's principal asks to speak to Kate and tells her that Zoe often falls asleep in class and has told her friends she's working late hours at the restaurant. The principal tells Kate that she's going to have to stop this, otherwise she's going to have to call Child Protective Services. Kate promises it won't happen again, but when she tells Zoe, Zoe gets angry and says she likes working in the kitchen, but we learn she's really upset because she misses her mother.

Zoe tries to play matchmaker and suggests that Kate invite Nick over for dinner on Sunday as neither of them work that day since the restaurant is closed. He and Zoe make pizza, telling Kate that they don't need her help and they'll let her know when dinner is served. Now I don't know about y'all, but when I make pizza, I just buy some Boboli pizza crust, put some sauce, cheese, black olives, and pepperoni on it, and throw that sucker in the oven. Not Nick, a true chef. He makes his dough from scratch. The three of them have a "safari" picnic where they've laid a blanket out on the floor and Zoe's stuffed animals surround them. It's a cute scene and we see a beginning of a spark between Kate and Nick. Shortly after, they start dating. When Kate asks him how they're going to work together now that they're in a relationship, Nick tells her, "We'll do what we always did: you tell me what to do, and I'll go behind your back and do whatever I want." When they kiss, Zoe moans about how it's "so embarrassing." Little girl, please, this is so what you wanted.

Things go south when Paula offers Nick Kate's job. Kate thinks this is what he wanted all along. Nick tells her he didn't accept the position, but it's too late and the damage is done. He has quit working at the restaurant and they have broken up. When Zoe goes missing and isn't at home or school or the restaurant, Kate asks for Nick's help to find her, which they do at her mother's grave. (I'm not even going to get into the logistics of how Zoe even got to the cemetery...I'm presuming her mother is buried in her hometown, wherever that is. Did Zoe steal money from her aunt and take a bus there? Did she hitchhike there?) Nick and Kate have a heart to heart and she apologizes to him, but he tells her he wants to thank her for going after what he wants and has gotten a job as an executive chef in San Francisco. Kate congratulates him, but you can tell she's not thrilled about this news.

After Kate quits her job (she quits before she can get fired because after sending out two steaks that aren't rare enough for a picky customer, she takes out an uncooked stead and slams it on his table, asking, "Rare enough?"), she goes to Nick's apartment and tells him she doesn't want him to go to San Francisco. In the end, they open up their own bistro that is brimming with customers. In an earlier scene, where they were all cooking together, they said they would have a restaurant named Kate and Nick and Zoe's. This is what they name the bistro. Terrible name. First of all, who wants to say, "Hey, let's go to Kate and Nick and Zoe's for lunch"? No one. Way too long. It's a ridiculous name for a restaurant. The logo of the restaurant is very confusing. It's an upside down triangle that says Bistro in the middle and on each of the three sides it has the three names. Zoe's the only one that is in possessive form. The triangle moves, so you can have any name at the top, while the other two names are on the sides. We see Zoe fix the triangle so it has her name on top and it says "Zoe's Bistro" and not "Kate Bistro" or "Nick Bistro" which just sounds weird. Why didn't they just name the damn bistro "Zoe's Bistro" and just be done with it? I bet you they dropped the "Kate and Nick" and just called it that. Their customers are able to see them from the kitchen and they all applaud when Kate and Nick kiss. Uh...I feel like in real life, most customers would not want the cooks doing that while they're preparing their food!

I like the clever double meaning of the title, even if they did take reservations at Bleeker 22, so the "No Reservations" doesn't work for that. Kate used to have reservations about dating/being in a relationship, but that changes once she meets and gets to know Nick. We know this because her therapist asks her how long it's been since her last relationship and she tells him it was three or four years ago. There's also a seemingly nice and decent-looking divorced man named Sean who lives in her building and has asked her out a few times, only to be turned down. She tells him she doesn't date people from her building, which is actually a good enough reason, but shouldn't that same rule apply to people she works with? I think dating people you work with is worse than dating people you live in the same building with because it would be harder to avoid them at work if the relationship didn't work out. I did feel a little bad for Sean when he sees Kate and Nick get back from a date.

Despite the tragic subplot, it's a cute movie with delicious-looking food and lots of popular Italian music. Sure, it's predictable because you know the main characters are going to end up together even after they have a fight and break up, but would you really want it any other way?

Since Bleeker 22 is a trendy restaurant in Manhattan, I thought I would tell you about the trendy restaurant I ate at the one time I visited Manhattan with my mom, my friend, and her mom. We usually ate at the hotel's restaurant or Seinfeld-esque diners, but on our last night we ate at a very nice Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit. The menu was very interesting and the meal was served in courses - some of them were only a bite, literally! The first thing was a little square of raw salmon arctic. Next we had barely cooked tuna with a little dot of beet sauce served on a glass tile. We were then served bread and I had Swedish dry bread. The next course was the first course aka the appetizer. I had the lobster roll with a yogurt base dotted with salmon roe eggs, which looked like orange tapioca. It came with a shot of ginger ale mixed with vodka. My next course, the main course, was the seafood stew. Its was covered in a dill sauce with a piece of lobster, tuna, salmon, scallion, and thin slices of cucumber and potato. Before we got dessert, we were served a tiny sorbet to cleanse our palate. It was butter cream and Japanese lemon with bits of chopped up citrus fruit. For dessert, I ordered the arctic circle which was goat cheese parfait with a lemon filling in the middle topped with a blueberry sauce and chocolate on the side. The very last thing we had were petite fours; there was coconut marshmallow, chocolate-covered fava beans, and a cranberry jelly square. I know some of these things sound questionable, but I promise, everything was absolutely delicious and it was the most sophisticated restaurant I've ever been to in my life! No idea how much the bill cost!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Perfect Heist

Inside Man
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Chiwetel Elijofor, Willem Dafoe
Released: March 24, 2006
Viewed in theaters: March 28, 2006

Spoilers ahoy!

I guess since after watching HeatI was still in the mood to watch a movie with a bank heist, so I chose this one when I saw that it was on Netflix. However, unlike Heat where the bank robbery is only one scene in the entire movie, the entire plot of Inside Man is about the heist. The movie opens with a bunch of people at a bank in New York City: we see the tellers, the security guards, and the patrons waiting in line. There's a man with his young son who's playing a game on his electric device, there's an obnoxious woman talking loudly on a phone and a security guard has to tell her to lower her voice, a woman listening to her iPod and singing along to it, a rabbi, and others. In a way, these people reminded me of the people on the bus in Speed: none of them are played by anyone you would recognize, but they're all characters who you learn about throughout the course of the movie as we will see more of them. Of course, with Speed, there's what, fifteen people on the bus who aren't Keanu Reeves or Sandra Bullock, so it's easier to get to know all of them. In Inside Man, there's about fifty extras who are in the bank during the heist so we only get to know a select few. During the film we see some of the people who were in the bank being interrogated by Detective Keith Frazier (that's Frazier with a Z!) played by Denzel Washington who dons a very stylish hat and his partner, Detective Bill Mitchell played by Chewetel Elijofor. All of those scenes are interwoven while what's happening in the bank is still going on. You know all these interviews are taking place after everyone is out of the bank and you know those people made it out alive.

While this is a heist movie, it's also a hostage movie. Clive Owen plays Dalton Russell who has set in motion the perfect bank robbery with his crew, which includes two other guys and one woman. They walk into the bank dressed as painters (including wearing masks and sunglasses) as though they're there to do some job. Nobody even blinks or notices them. Not until one of the higher ups at the bank realizes that they didn't hire anyone to do any paint jobs and when he questions Russell, that's when he screams at everyone to get down and the rest of his crew point guns at everyone until they're all laying on the ground.

They gather everyone and divide them up into two groups: employees and patrons and gather everyone's phones and keys. One bank worker tells Russell that he forgot his phone and Russell, not believing him, tells him he's going to ask him again, but the man insists he forgot it. I really thought he was being sincere since Russell tells him if he lies to him, he'll kill him and I'm sure the man would have produced his phone if he really had it with him. Russell starts going through all the other bank workers' phones, seeing if any of them have Peter Hammond, the name of the man who forgot his cell phone, on their speed dial. (And you can tell right away this movie came out before the iPhone was a thing, because there's not a one to be seen in this movie! We will later see a very early version of the iPod which looks very archaic in this day!) When he comes across a phone that does have Hammonds number, he dials it and hears a phone in a nearby office ring. He doesn't kill Peter, but he does take him into the office where he beats him.

They then make everyone take off their clothes and put on jumpsuits, similar to the ones the robbers are wearing. This is to confuse the police so they won't know who the hostages are from the bank robbers. This is why we see the two detectives interviewing everyone later on: to see if they were part of the robbery. The hostages will be divided randomly into three or four different rooms, sometimes changing people to another room and even inserting one of the robbers into one of the rooms to pretend they're one of them. Since they're all wearing the same uniforms, it's all very confusing, not just for the hostages, but for the viewing audience!

Can I just say that being taken hostage would be one of my worst nightmare sceanrios? (And I have about a million worst nightmare scenarios).  Obviously, it would be quite terrifying, especially if people were being killed and you didn't know if you were safe or not. But honestly? On a more selfish level? I think it would just be so boring. You wouldn't know how long you would be in this situation. What if you got hungry or had to pee? You probably wouldn't have your phone or anything to keep you occupied. You wouldn't be able to check Facebook or listen to a podcast or read a book or watch a movie on Netflix. You probably wouldn't be able to talk to anybody else, like these people were instructed. You would be too scared and worried to fall asleep...it would just be so boring! Heh, I just realized that it seems I would be much more worried about being bored than about the possibility of being murdered if I were ever taken hostage.

The two detectives are paired with Captain John Darius (Willem Dafoe) and his crew where they have a van with surveillance set outside the bank. During the course of the hostage crisis, a few civilians are set free, often with a message for the police. The first is an old man who was wheezing and claiming he was having a heart attack. Since he's wearing a jumpsuit and mask, he has to tell the police not to shoot and that if they go inside, the next two people who are brought out will be dead bodies. From this first released hostage, they know there are four perpetuators, including one woman, and they are also donning the same outfits.

When another hostage is released with a message telling them they need food for 50 people, they send in pizzas with listening devices attached to the boxes. They are told by one of the officers that pizza works better than sandwiches because then you can hear conversations of the people who have to huddle around the pizza box to eat instead of going their own separate ways with their individual sandwiches. But the criminals are too smart for them and put on an old propaganda tape of the Albanian president. The police don't realize this until much later. At first they think it's Russian, but when they get their Russian language expert to analyze it, he tells them he doesn't recognize it. When they play it over a loud speaker and ask the group of spectators if anyone recognizes the language, a guy comes forward, telling them it's Albanian and he knows this because his ex-wife is from Albania. Since they don't have any Albanian language speakers in the field, they ask the guy to call his ex. She tells them she will help as long as they make her parking tickets go away, then tells them it's a recording of a dead Albanian president.

You can tell the writer of this movie is a fan of Al Pacino, specifically '70s Al Pacino because there are references to three of his movies: The Godfather, Serpico, and Dog Day Afternoon. When Frazier finally talks to Russell on the phone, Russell refers to him as "Serpico." He tells Frazier that he wants a plane fueled and ready and as long as he gets that, nobody will be killed.

Meanwhile, the founder of the bank and chairman of the board, Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) has hired power broker Madeline White (Jodie Foster), a person who has "very special skills and complete discretion" to fix problems. Case tells her he has something of great value to him in one of the lockboxes at the bank and he wants to be sure that it doesn't get into the wrong hands. Madeline assures him she'll do what she can and is able to enter the bank to speak to Russell. After speaking to her on the phone, he invites her inside once he is satisfied she's neither a cop nor works for the bank. She tells him that he's not stupid, that he knows that he's not going to be able to escape from this and that she will be able to arrange for him to only have three or four years of jail time since he hasn't stolen anything or killed anyone...yet. (That may be true, but he sure has assaulted many people!) She also offers to have two million dollars waiting for him once he is out of prison. He tells her, "Thanks, but no thanks." During their conversation, we find out that when Case was a young man, he worked for a bank in Switzerland during World War II where he used money from the Nazis to start this bank. Russell has already retrieved what was inside the lockbox which included documents from Nazi Germany, proving that Case had ties to the Nazis. Yeah...no wonder he wanted to keep that hush hush! Russell uses this information to blackmail her and she tells him that he will be paid a good amount of money if he destroys the contents. She asks him how he even plans to get out and he simply replies, "I'm going to walk through the front doors."

Madeline tells Detective Frazier the deal she offered Russell, but Frazier doesn't believe that she would go in to tell him something that he already knew. She is convinced that he's not going to kill anyone because he doesn't seem like a murderer and Frazier tells her, "You never know what a person will do until you've pushed the in a corner" to which Madeline replies, "But it doesn't seem like you've pushed him into a corner." This statement will stay with him as we will later see in a few scenes.

The fact that Russell doesn't seem to be in any rush, despite making demands for a plane has Frazier wondering and he calls Russell with the news that his plane is ready, but before he can allow him on, he needs to inspect the bank first to make sure that nobody has been killed. He is let into the bank after he is patted down and shown the four rooms with all the hostages. He tells Russell he knows he's stalling and there's no way he plans to get on a plane with 50 hostages (I had no idea he was planning on taking the hostages with him!) and Frazier knows that Russell knows that won't work because he saw Dog Day Afternoon. (Thanks for spoiling that for me, Denzel!) I do have Dog Day Afternoon in my Netflix queue along with fifty other movies, not to mention the fifteen movies I have on my "to watch" list on Netflix Instant. So, eventually, I'll get around to watching and reviewing it! He wants to know what his real plan is, but Russell won't reveal anything to him, only that he'll walk out the door when he's good and ready. Before he leaves, Frazier attacks Russell, but immediately has a gun to his head by one of the other criminals. Since Russell had the chance to kill him, but didn't, this proves to Frazier that he's not the killing type. Hmmm, I feel like Frazier was a little too close to playing Russian roulette with that move on attacking Russell: if he doesn't get killed, Russell's not the murdering type. If he does get killed, well, he's dead! I don't think I'd want to take a chance like that! However, he seems to be wrong about Russell because Russell calls him and tells him to put the camera on the second floor window and they see a hostage with a bag over their head get executed. So much for the theory that Frazier had about Russell not being a violent person.

The next shot of the movie is Frazier walking back to the bank with a pissed-off look on his face. Except the way they shot it, he's not walking, he's more like gliding. You can tell that Denzel is standing on something with wheels and is being pulled. It looks really weird, but you know that Spike Lee loves this shot because he used it as Denzel's clip at the end of the movie when all the actors are being credited with their own scene from the movie. To me, it would look way more menacing if he were actually walking with a purposeful stride. It is a very artistic choice, but doesn't work in the context of the scene. I guess this is something Spike Lee does in a lot of his films.

Now that someone has been killed, it's time to get serious and end this thing before anything else catastrophic happens. Frazier realizes, after they've had a conversation about how they plan to infiltrate the bank, that the criminals have probably put a listening device on one of the items that have been brought out with the hostages. He is proven right, but is too late to stop them from entering the bank. It's chaotic, but all the hostages are released with no one being killed. The only problem is, since they're all dressed the same as the criminals, they can't decipher the hostages from the robbers and that is when they're all taken in for questioning. Everyone is treated as a suspect. The police look around the bank and find some very peculiar things which include fake weapons, a prop that was used to fake the execution with fake blood, and the fact that nothing was taken from the bank.

Since there's no way to determine who robbed the bank, Frazier is told by his superior to bury it. Nobody was killed and nothing was stolen, so no harm. Frazier knows there's got to be more to the story, because why else would this whole thing have happened. He keeps pursing the case and discovers that the only safety deposit box that doesn't have any records is number 392 which contains Mr. Cases's Nazi paraphernalia, a ring which used to belong to a Jewish friend whom Case betrayed to the Nazis, and diamonds. When Frazier and Mitchell get a warrant to search box number 392, they only find the ring is still there. Russell has taken the diamonds and the Nazi documents as an insurance policy. The two detectives confront Case about the mysterious lockbox with the ring, but he tells them nothing. When Frazier finds Madeline having lunch at a fancy restaurant with the Mayor, he implores her to contact the War Crime Issues Office in D.C. I did love when he enters the restaurant, a snooty maitre'd asks for his hat and he replies, "No, you may not have it. Get your own." Ha!

During the movie, the four perpetrators had been woking on building a fake wall in the supply room which Russell hid behind for a week (they also dug a hole for him to use as a toilet...not sure what he did about food, I imagine he brought enough. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why he was in there for an entire week; that seems a little excessive). He is, in fact, able to walk right out the front doors just as he said he would. Although, you would think after spending a week without being able to shower, he would smell terribly (which is even brought up by his crew when they are there to pick him up), but nobody even seems to pay any attention or make any comments as he's exiting the bank. Maybe it's not unusual for people to smell in New York! Russell is not only carrying a heavy backpack on his back, but he's also holding a heavy duffel bag. You think that would be a bit suspicious, but no, nobody seems to notice this. He is able to leave the bank without anybody paying any mind to him at all.

If you like heist movies, you will like this one and if you like Denzel Washington, you will like this movie, I guarantee it! 

Friday, August 17, 2018

'Heat' of the Moment

Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Time Sizemore, Jon Voight, Natalie Portman
Released: December 15, 1995

Anytime anyone does a Robert De Niro or Al Pacino impression, I am always amused. And the better the impression, the more amused I am. I found the funniest thing when I was doing research for this movie. (Well, actually I was doing research for De Niro and Pacino impressions...) I discovered a little podcast called "The Al Pacino and Robert De Niro Show" where they interview some up and coming actor or comedian. There's about four or five episodes and they're all only ten minutes long. "Al" will always shout "OH, BOY!" or call something "TREMENDOUS!" ("That was a TREMENDOUS show!") Of course, you'll have the occasional "HOO-WAH!" thrown in there as well. And then you have "Bobby" who will interrupt "Al" while he's interviewing the guest with some stupid question that has nothing to do with whatever they're talking about (like what's your  favorite cereal?) and "Al" will always respond with, "That's a good question, Bobby!" And sometimes "Al" will ask "Bobby" a question and he replies with, "Who, me?" There was one particularly funny podcast where De Niro blurts out of nowhere, "I won an Oscar for Raging Bull!" and Pacino responds, "That's right, Bobby! And I won an Oscar for Scent of a Woman!" (I'm surprised  De Niro didn't one-up him and say he has two Oscars...he must have "forgotten".) "Bobby" asks the guest if he's ever won an Oscar and he goes, "No, I've never been to the Oscars." And five minutes later "Al" will mention his Oscar again, haha! And, I swear, in every podcast "Bobby" brings up Rocky and Bullwinkle...I'm pretty sure the real De Niro wants to forget about that movie! They were talking about comedies the two actors have been in and he brought up that one. "Al" says he can't remember if that was him in Meet the Fockers ("Was that me in Meet the Fockers?") and "Bobby" tells him that he "thinks that was Dustin Hoffman." I love that neither of them can remember who was in that movie. Funny stuff. Do yourself a favor and go to Youtube and type "De Niro and Pacino go for ice cream". It's a MadTV skit where it takes them two hours to decide on what kind of ice cream they want at Baskin Robbins.

I came across this movie when I was doing research for The Godfather movies because while both Pacino and De Niro were in the second movie, they never share a scene together (if they did, there would be some weird time traveling stuff going on!) Nearly twenty years after that movie, Heat was going to be the first time they would share the screen together. In fact, the trailers were all about this being the first time they would finally be acting together. Now, if I were some moviegoer back in 1995 excited to see these two legendary actors in the same movie, sharing scenes together, I would be a bit miffed because (spoiler alert!) they're only in two scenes together! And in one of them there's barely any dialogue between them. And this is a three hour movie! They probably literally only share fifteen minutes of screen time together (if that!) However, I think it works and the motto "less is more" is true here.


Pacino plays Detective Vincent Hanna who is trying to capture De Niro's criminal Neil McCauley who is planning a bank heist with his crew. Pacino does a lot of screaming in this movie...he is a lot more unhinged than the calm, cool, and collected De Niro. "GIVE ME ALL YOU GOT! GIVE ME ALL YOU GOT!" "DON'T WASTE MY MOTHERF'ING TIME." And lots, lots more. Even though he doesn't yell it, my favorite line is when he's interrogating Hank Azaria's character about Ashley Judd's character and when Azaria says, "Who?", Pacino goes, "Who? Who? What are you, a f**king owl?" And speaking of animals, I also laughed when he's talking to Tone Loc's character and says, "You get killed walkin' your doggie!"

There are so many people in this movie; many of them you are probably familiar with. I only listed the actors who are more well-known/have the most screen time above. There are a ton of character actors. Let me tell you how many other people are in this...some of them weren't even listed in the beginning credits:
-Amy Brenneman, best known for shows like Judging Amy, Private Practice, and  NYPD Blue is in this.
-Hank Azaria, from The Simpsons and a million other things, is in this.
-Dennis Haysbert aka President Palmer from 24 is in this.
-Speaking of 24, Xander Berkeley, is also in this for one scene.
-Jeremy Piven has one scene in this movie.
-William Fichtner, also in a million things, but maybe you might remember him from The Dark Knight, which I will bring up later in this review, is in this. He's a total, "Hey, it's that guy!" character actor that you always recognize but you may not know his name.
-Danny Trejo, who has done so many things, but I know him best from Breaking Bad, is in this.
-Tone Loc, '90s rapper and the bad guy from Blank Check (heh!), is in this.
-Ted Levine, the guy who played Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, is in this.
-Mykelti Williamson, who played Bubba in Forrest Gump, is in this.
-Tom Noonan, who they made a big deal about in Last Action Hero, is in this, but honestly, I'm not that familiar with him. I didn't know any of his movies except for LAH.
And there's a million other people, but I wasn't familiar with them. I'm sure you know at least six people from the above list!

This is a long movie. It's three hours long. Oh, did I already mention that? Usually I space out these really long movies and watch them over a course of a couple days. I watched Heat on a day I didn't feel good so I was more than happy to sit on my couch in the dark for three hours watching it. There's so much going on and a lot of information to retain, that I did have to re-watch a couple scenes to write this. It's a really good movie. Beautifully shot...you really get the essence of Los Angeles, where it takes place. Every scene in this movie was filmed in an actual L.A. location, no studios are ever used and it definitely helps the film feel much more authentic. However, I almost think this movie would have benefited to be a ten-part series on Netflix or Hulu. Unfortunately, those didn't exist twenty years ago and if you were to make it as a series today, you wouldn't get the same cast and Pacino and De Niro would be too old for their roles, so you wouldn't get that awesome diner scene between the two of them. Even though this movie is three hours long, I still feel like so much is missing. For instance, Natalie Portman (a 12 or 13 year old Natalie Portman!) plays Pacino's stepdaughter. Her mom is his third wife. Portman's character's name is Lauren, and honestly, I had to look that up because I would have never remembered that as she is probably in the entire movie for less than five minutes. When we first meet her, she's being a bratty kid, whining about how she can't find her barrettes and she needs to be ready for when her dad picks her up. He never does and we learn that it's not uncommon for him to do that. We next see her sitting at a bus stop and I just assumed she was waiting there for her dad to pick her up, but then Vincent sees her and picks her up. (Really, what are the odds he would come across the same bus stop his stepdaughter is at in L.A.?) He asks her what she's doing and she replies she wanted to be alone. I thought for sure when we first met her she was going to be kidnapped by De Niro, or worse, murdered by one of the really bad guys from his crew. However, her final act towards the end of the movie comes out of nowhere and I wasn't expecting that at all. Vincent, who's been having problems with his wife, Justine, is staying at a hotel and when he goes back there one night, he notices the floor is all wet right outside the bathroom and when he goes in he sees Lauren unconscious in the bathtub with the water all red after she has cut herself. WTF? Where the f**k did this come from? I know she wasn't happy that her dad kept making excuses not to see her, but this seemed to come out of nowhere! Maybe she was also unhappy that her mom and stepdad were fighting? We never see her in any of those scenes, but that doesn't mean she doesn't know about it. Still....I feel like if this had been a ten-part miniseries we could get some more insight of this young girl being suicidal, because, to me, it totally comes out of nowhere. She is rushed to the hospital where she is helped and will survive her ordeal. Honestly, you could have just taken out Natalie Portman and you wouldn't even miss anything. Fun fact: this was her second movie, but that's not too surprising as she is really young in this!

Another scene where this movie would benefit from being a miniseries is when Neil meets Amy Brenneman's character, Eady, for the first time. The following happens, all within, like five minutes: first we see Neil in a bookstore, where Eady works. We see her walk past him while he's looking at a book and this is probably something you wouldn't even notice if you were watching it for the first time. The next scene he's sitting in a crowded diner with just an empty seat between him and Eady. Seriously, again, what are the odds of that? Was this diner connected to that bookstore or something, cuz then at least that would make a little more sense that they would both be there. Even if that were true, it is amazing that they are both sitting near each other because this is the biggest diner/restaurant I have ever seen in my life! Even bigger than the Cheesecake Factory, haha. After he asks her to pass the creamer, she asks him what he's reading (a book about metals) and what he does. He gets annoyed and asks her why she's so interested in what he reads or what he does. She apologizes for bothering him and tells him she works at the bookstore and has seen him from time to time. He feels bad for being rude (probably only because she's young and pretty and he likes her Southern accent!) and moves to the empty seat and tells her he's a salesman and asks questions about her. You know this movie came out before Project Runway because when Eady tells him she went to Parsons for graphic design, he asks her where that is. Please. Everyone knows where Parsons is because of that show! Tim Gunn put Parsons on the map. They end up at her place and I'm thinking, Um, is this a good idea to take some guy home with you that you just met? He could be a criminal (which he is!) Well, as long as she doesn't sleep with him...which she does! She obviously has a thing for older men because we know she's been "watching" him at the bookstore and he is easily twenty years older than her. She's lucky she didn't take home the really bad guy in Neil's crew because things wouldn't end so well for her! But he isn't even attractive. Maybe that whole scene was more than five minutes, but it seems very rushed and makes Eady look very naive, which I guess she is supposed to be, as we will see more prominently later in the film.

Neil's crew consists of Chris (Val Kilmer), Michael (Tom Sizemore),  and Trejo (Danny Trejo...yes, he plays a character that has his same surname...I wonder if that was the character's first or last name?) They have hired a guy named Waingro (who is the aforementioned really bad guy) to help them steal over a million dollars in bearer bonds. (Isn't that what Jared Leto and company were trying to get in Panic Room?) Their plan is to ambush an armored truck and have someone get the bonds while a couple others keep a lookout for the police and another one keep a gun on the guards who were in the truck so they don't try anything. Unfortunately they give that job to Waingro, the worst person to give that job to as he ends up killing one of them for no reason. One of the other guards reaches for his gun and this prompts Neil (or maybe it was Michael...it's hard to tell when they're all wearing masks...the only reason I knew it was Waingro who killed the first guard was because he has long hair) to kill him. They also kill the third guard to make sure there are no witnesses. This really pisses off Neil (who calls Waingro a "dumb motherf'er" twice...this is why he and Vincent should be BFFs...they love calling people that!) because their crime went from bad to REALLY F**KED! Later they're at a diner (a slightly smaller one, but still quite crowded) and he bashes Waingro's head into a table. There's some nice continuity where we will see a nasty scar where he hit his head throughout the rest of the movie. When they walk outside, Michael and Chris keep a lookout in the parking lot while Trejo opens the car trunk where we see a body bag ready to be used. Neil is about to shoot him after punching him in the gut, but Michael tells him to wait because he sees a police car. While Neil is watching the car, Waingro gets away. Why Neil or any of the other guys don't physically keep him in their control, don't ask me. But I guess the plot of the movie calls for his escape. Waingro will go on to commit a series of murders, killing young prostitutes by bashing their heads in. At one of the crime scenes Vincent arrives at, we see a bunch of people behind the yellow tape, and there are at least two small children...seriously, who are these parents who think it is appropriate to let children view a crime scene? Vincent is pulled away while he's on a date with his wife and this starts the downfall of their marriage...he is so busy with his work and always having to run away when he is needed. She has an affair with Xander Berkeley's character.

The LAPD reach the crime of the scene to scope things and very quickly Vincent realizes these are smart criminals because they were in a good spot with lots of escape routes and they knew to get away within three minutes, the time it would take for the police to reach them. Vincent gets some intel from an informant played by Tone Loc and they run Michael's name through the system and find all his felonies. They put him under constant surveillance.

Meanwhile, in a scene where there's a lot of math, Neil's boss/mentor (I don't know what you would call him!), Nate (Jon Voight) tells Neil that the bonds came from a money laundering man named  Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner) who "runs investment portfolios for offshore drug money." If Neil sells Van Zant his stolen bearer bonds, he'll make the money back, plus another 40% on top with the insurance. I don't know, I'm not good with math! This will also give Neil more money, so he agrees. Van Zant is a real piece of work. He's exactly the kind of shady client Saul Goodman would have (everything I learned about money laundering, I learned from Saul Goodman, true story!) He sends one of his men to ambush Neil when they're at the meeting place to make the exchange (big mistake!), but Neil is warned by Chris, who was keeping an eye on things, and makes it out without a scratch and still has the bonds. The two men Van Zant sent, however, end up dead. Despite all this, Neil is quite furious at just what went down (well, you can't blame the guy...he did just escape an assassination attempt!) and let's just say Van Zant better watch his back! Not only did Van Zant try to kill him, the package of money was just blank scraps of paper. Total scumbag, this Roger Van Zant.

By survieling Michael, Vincent and the rest of the LAPD learn about the other members of the crew and find out their next score is to break into a precious metals depository. (Aha! That's why Neil was reading a book about metals!) The police set up a stake out, ready to strike when they have their thieves. One of the officers accidentally hits his gun against the van and Neil, who is keeping watch outside near the van, hears it. Not wanting to take any chances, he tells Chris to stop drilling, despite Chris almost having it. They leave with nothing and Vincent tells the others to just let them go because they don't have anything to charge them with except breaking and entering which will only give them about six months of jail time before they're out. Vincent doesn't think it's even worth it. How much do you want to bet he chewed that guy's head off for screwing up their plan when they got back?

Neil and his crew turn the tables on Vincent and the LAPD and scope them out. I laughed when Vincent figures this out and starts posing for the camera and yelling, "Yeah!" Nate gives Neil the info on Vincent, saying that Vincent thinks he's pretty smart and almost has an admiration for him. However, he's on his tail and Nate advises Neil, who is planning on robbing 12.2 million dollars from a bank with his crew, to pass because he has too much heat from the LAPD, especially Hanna, on him.  Neil refuses to pass on the job which he already has all the schematics for, plus the plan has already been set up by Tom Noonan's character: the night before the big heist, they plan to trick the alarm system computer so it turns the video recorder off twenty minutes before they walk inside.

Right smack dab in the middle of the film is the scene everyone's been waiting for with bated breath; a scene everyone has been waiting to see for the last twenty years: the scene between Pacino and De Niro. Hanna goes to great lengths to find McCauley: he's in one of a handful of helicopters, all looking for his car. When they find him driving on the freeway, a car is waiting for Vince so he can catch up to Neil and when he does, he invites him for coffee. Can you imagine being an extra in this scene? You know they all tell people, "I was in a scene with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and that's how I got my SAG card." (Okay, I don't know how SAG memberships work, but I feel like even if you act in a scene for a half second, then you're a member of SAG). That's what I would say if I were an extra in that scene! Now I probably would have been 13 when this movie was filmed, so I probably wouldn't care if I had been an extra in this scene because while I had certainly heard of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro at the time as they were big names, I probably wouldn't know that it was such a big deal they were in a scene together. I realize now, that as they're getting older (Pacino is 78 and today is De Niro's 75th birthday), that I've always taken them for granted. I don't want to sound morbid or anything, but you know all the news shows have their Pacino and De Niro (and all the other big names from their generation) video footage of all their big movies and accolades ready to roll in case, God forbid, anything should happen to one of them. But hopefully they still have a few good years left because I will feel horrible if something does happen to one of them right after I publish them, like I cursed them or something! I don't want to take the, ahem, heat for that. (That pun was very intentional!)

Anyway, let's get off this depressing subject and return to the scene they're in together. Even though they're both on the opposite sides of the law, there's a mutual respect and admiration between the two and in another life, they could quite possible be really good friends. There's a very interesting point in the conversation which will come up later in the movie and I'll get to that later. Both of them realize the other is not going to back down: McCauley is going to continue his life of robberies and Hanna is going to continue to chase the bad guys like McCauley that are out there. Hanna even tells him, "If it's between you and some poor bastard whose wife you're gonna turn into a widow, brother, you are going down." Likewise, Neil tells him that "There's a flip side to that coin" and that he "won't hesitate" if he has to be the one to kill Vincent. He also adds, "Maybe we'll never see each other again." Ha! Yeah, right. You know these two are going to cross paths again.

McCauley recruits Dennis Hayberth's character, Donald to be their getaway driver the day of the bank heist. He sees him working behind a grill at a diner and recognizes him from his prison days. He does this after their original getaway driver, Trejo, calls him and tells him he has too many cops on his tail and he has to back out of the bank heist. The heist and the shootout that follows is probably the most memorable part of the movie (beside the Pacino/De Niro scene, obviously). Apparently, Christopher Nolan used it to inspire the opening bank heist scene in The Dark Knight, and yeah, I can see it. Neil, Chris, and Michael just walk into this huge bank in downtown L.A. and they all stand in separate places. While Neil and Chris are putting ski masks on, Chris distracts everyone by hitting a guard and soon all three of them have complete control of the bank, handcuffing guards and pointing their guns at people, telling them to stay down and to not move. Neil tells them they don't want to hurt anybody, they are just there for the bank's money, not the patrons' money which is insured by the federal government. While what happens at the bank is scary with three masked men with guns taking duffel bags of money, what happens next in the busy streets is much scarier. At least they didn't use their guns at the bank. (Well, not to SHOOT anyone...they did use their guns a couple of times to hit guards with them).

It becomes a bit difficult for the LAPD to follow McCauley and his crew as they have gotten rid of all the surveillance. But as the heist is going down, they get a tip from Van Zant's bodyguard, of all people, and are able to catch up to the thieves as they are leaving the bank. Hanna instructs his crew to wait until they are all in their car and to "take clean shots." Um, is it really a good idea to start shooting bank robbers in the middle of downtown L.A. where there are people EVERYWHERE? However, they are not the first ones to start shooting; it's Chris who takes the first shot at the police and they return fire with him and the others. This is said to be the most intense shootout in any movie and they aren't lying! What makes it really scary if just how realistic it is. This scene is insane...they are just shooting everywhere and at everyone. Both sides end with casualties...one of the detectives played by Ted Levine is killed by Chris and Donald and Michael are both killed. I'm not sure how many civilians were killed, but there was no way none were unscathed by all those flying bullets! They even continue the shooting in a parking lot of a grocery store. Michael is killed after he takes a random child hostage (she got separated from her mother through all the confusion) and Vincent takes a shot at him, luckily not hitting the little girl! Neil and Chris get away when they steal a station wagon from the grocery store parking lot. Chris got shot in the neck and he is taken to a doctor played by Jeremy Piven. Neil tells Chris they need to get out of the country because they're all over the news. He believes it was Trejo who betrayed them to the cops because he wasn't there. When he goes to Trejo's house to confront him, he finds Trejo's wife dead and Trejo near death, but just barely hanging on. When he asks him why he did it, Trejo tells him that it was Waingro working with Van Zant and he had to tell them or he would kill his wife (which they did anyway, apparently!)

In one of her earlier film roles, Ashley Judd plays Charlene, the wife of Chris. They have a young son and she has no problem with her husband's criminal activity as long as it brings the big bucks. She's having an affair with Hank Azaria's character and the cops use him to bring her in for a sting operation. They tell her if they don't cooperate with them, then she will be going to jail and her son will grow up in foster homes. Her job is to lure her husband home. When they think they have Chris approaching in a car, they tell her to go outside and see if it's him. Look, I understand why an officer didn't accompany her because they didn't want to scare him off, but nobody was keeping an eye on her at all? From the balcony, she gives  Chris a subtle hand signal and he knows what this means and gets back in his car and drives away. She tells the detective played by Mykelti Williamson that it wasn't him. Smartly, he radios another officer to stop the car and check it out just to be on the safe side. Chris has a fake ID, thanks to Nate, and has also cut his hair. They know what Chris looks like, and they should know that it's possible he would have a fake ID ready to go when he escapes, but they let him go! They let him go because they believe it's an entirely different man! WTF? Do they not realize it's still him, just with short hair? That seemed a bit...implausible. Charlene is lucky the cops were so dumb or her ass (and according to Vincent, "She's got a GREAT ass!") would have wound up in jail. While Chris is able to get away, you know he will never be able to return to his wife or son again as you know the LAPD are watching to see if he does just that.

Neil has plans to escape with Eady to New Zealand (which she seems all ready to do...seems a bit impulsive to move across the world with someone you just met!) When she sees the shootout on the news, she realizes that Neil did this, understanding why he wants to go to the other side of the world. When he comes to get her, she runs away from him and he follows her up a hill and I thought for sure he was going to kill her, but he doesn't. Neil may be a criminal, but he's not a cold-blooded killer. He only murders people who really deserve it. He even gives her the choice of staying or leaving and she chooses to stay. Again, she seems a bit naive.

There are two things Neil really wants: he wants to live his life with someone he's found who he really cares about and he wants to get revenge on the two people who f**ked him over: Van Zant and Waingro. He will not be able to have both. With Nate's help, he is able to find the former and kill him. Also with Nate's help, he has an escape plan waiting for him and he is almost home free. On his way with Eady to the plane, Nate calls him with the whereabouts of Waingro. Neil decides it's not even worth it since he's almost out of the country, but at the last minute he decides to make a pit stop at the hotel Waingro is staying at, telling Eady, "There's time." In a weird way you're kind of rooting for this criminal to make his getaway so when he decides to do this, you're screaming at your TV to leave well enough alone and just forget about Waingro and make his damn escape already! He does kill Waingro (and let's face it, the world is a better place without him in it), but also causes quite the commotion because he set the fire alarm off to distract everyone and now all the police cars and firetrucks are in the area. Poor Eady is waiting in the car, wondering what the hell is going on. Vincent knows that Neil is at the hotel and as Neil is walking back to his car, he sees his cop buddy approach him. Now, if you remember, I mentioned that there's an interesting part in the conversation that comes up between Hanna and McCauley that will become relevant late on: Neil tells Vincent that he was once given the advice, "Don't let yourself get attached to anything [or anyone!] you are not willing to walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner." This is what exactly happens to the usually solidarity Neil who has found someone he loves and has gotten quite attached to Eady and now he has to leave her behind as he runs away from Vincent, who pursues him. Eady gets out of the car and is just looking at him in disbelief. Even though I thought she was totally naive throughout the movie, I did feel bad for her.

In the end, they're both playing a game of cat and mouse in the airfield, both with guns at the ready. It goes on for awhile, but when Neil tries to make his move, Vincent sees his shadow and quickly reacts, shooting him in the chest, not quite killing Neil, but wounding him profusely that he probably has only a few minutes to live. He is nice enough to hold Neil's hand while he dies. You can tell he didn't want this, but as he mentioned before, if it had to be between Neil and himself, Neil would be going down.

Despite my slight criticism of there being too many characters and subplots for even a three hour movie to follow, it does the best it can with it and I highly recommend it if you've never seen it. Don't let the three hour length intimidate you! This is filmmaking at its finest. If you put two good actors together with a great director and super talented character actors, you really can't go wrong. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Circle of Trust

Meet the Parents
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson
Released: October 6, 2000
Viewed in theaters: October 7, 2000

Oscar nominations:

Best Song - "A Fool in Love" by Randy Newman (lost to "Things Have Changed" by Bob Dylan from Wonder Boys)

Meet the Fockers
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand 
Released: December 22, 2004

Picture it: Kansas City, Missouri, 2000. My mom and I are in KC for a weekend, just for funsies. We shop, we eat, we go to movies both nights we're there. On Friday night we see Remember the Titans and on Saturday night we see Meet the Parents. Okay, that's the extent of my story! 

Yes, I'm missing the third movie in this trilogy, Little Fockers, but it wasn't available on Netflix like the other two are and I heard it's pretty terrible, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything! 

The first movie begins in Chicago where Greg Focker (Ben Stiller (oh, and we will get to how horrendous that name is later on!)) is getting ready to propose to his girlfriend, Pam (Teri Polo). She's a kindergarten teacher and he has this whole thing planned out where he has her students arranged by the window holding up letters that read, "Will You Marry Me?" and he will surprise her by turning her around so she'll see the message. It's all very cute. Just as he's getting ready to pop the question, her phone rings and it's her younger sister, Debbie, telling her SHE'S gotten engaged. What are the odds of that? When Greg hears that her sister's fiance, Bob, asked permission from her father because he appreciates things like that, he decides to nix the proposal.  Although, does it seem a little weird that he was planning to propose to his girlfriend without ever meeting her parents? I know her parents live in New York, but you would think they've been dating long enough that their paths would have crossed at least once. Lucky for him, Debbie and Bob are getting married in two weeks (seriously, WTF? They JUST got engaged and they're getting married in TWO WEEKS?) so he will be able to meet Pam's parents and ask her father for permission to marry her

Greg's trip to Oyster Bay (yes, I checked, and yes, it is a real place. It's on Long Island) doesn't start out so well when the airline loses his luggage which had a two-carat diamond engagement ring inside of it. Was he seriously planning on asking Pam to marry him the same weekend as her sister's wedding? Ehhh....not a good idea. Why is he trying to take away attention from the sister who's getting married? But man, I would be so pissed if they lost my luggage with a diamond ring in it! And the next three days for him are only going to get worse.

Greg meets Pam's parents, Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) and right away Jack gets in two jabs at Greg. This will be a running theme throughout the movie (and the next one!) He comments about their rental car and tells him, "Interesting color, you pick it?" (It's green). Greg tells him the guy at the counter was the one who picked it out and Jack tells him, "They say geniuses pick green...but you didn't pick it!" Ouch. Also, I call BS on that. When Pam tells her parents that Greg lost his luggage, Jack asks if she got her luggage and she tells him she took a carry-on to which he replies, "That's my girl!"

This is the point of the movie where the viewing audience learns what Greg's last name is. Dina asks him how it's pronounced and he tells her just how it's spelled, F-O-C-K-E-R. You know they were hoping that wasn't the case! I have to admit, I laughed at all the Focker jokes. Because I'm 12. There's a few in this movie, but they're more prevalent in the second movie when we meet Father Focker and Mother Focker (hehehe). Speaking of Meet the Fockers, I was surprised they got away with  calling it that! Little Fockers sounds even worse...try saying that three times fast and you're saying something completely different! While doing research for this movie (which is reading the trivia page on IMDb), I read that the MPAA would not allow them to use that name (it is PG-13 rated movie, after all) unless they found someone who had that last name. Evidently they did. Just imagine, there are some poor schmucks out there with this horrible last name. And these movies probably didn't help them! By the way, if I were Pam, I would NOT change my name! (Spoiler alert: they get married!)

We're introduced to the Byrnes' cat, Mr. Jinx (who usually goes by Jinx or Jinxy). Now, I don't remember my reaction to first seeing Jinx, but I'm sure it was one of the following:
-I probably clapped.
-I probably "ahhhhh"-ed.
-I probably squealed in delight.
-I probably did all the above.
Why? Well, because Mr. Jinx was played by a Himalayan and I don't know if you remember (and you probably don't), but when I reviewed Homeward Bound, which also features a Himalayan cat, I mentioned I had a Himalayan cat. His name was Mac and he has since passed on, but he was alive when I saw Meet the Parents, so of course I was more then delighted to see a Himalayan cat being represented in the film industry, haha. Jinx belongs to Pam and she left him with her parents when she moved to Chicago, but they should have just made him her parents' pet. It didn't make any sense why she never told her boyfriend about her cat...you think that would come up on one of their first couple of dates; everyone loves talking about their pets! Also, Jack is ENAMORED with this cat, another reason they should have just made it his own cat. While I remembered the whole teaching Jinx to use the toilet trick, I had totally forgotten about his smaller, but still equally impressive tricks. When Jack calls Jinx ("Come here, baby! Come to Daddy!"), the cat jumps onto a chair, then into his arms. Super impressive. Also, when Jack tells him to say "hi" to Greg, the cat waves his paw. It's so cute! In another scene, Jack will feed him bacon from his mouth (that's not really a trick though, anyone can do that!) Jack tells Greg that he taught Jinx to use the toilet and when Greg makes a joke about having another guy around to leave the toilet seat up, the three human Byrnes just stare at him and Jack tells him "He can't lift the seat, Greg. He lacks the strength and opposable thumbs." Pam drops the bomb that Greg hates cat and Jack just gives him this look which quickly tells Greg that if he wasn't already on Jack's bad side before, he certainly is now! And maybe that's the reason Pam never told Greg about her cat. I still think they should have just made Jinx her parents' cat. I did laugh when Greg tells the Byrnes he's more of a dog person and Dina, who is standing behind Jack, mouths, "So am I." How much do you want to bet he would divorce her in a second he had seen her?

Later, Greg will accompany Jack to the store when Pam suggests they go together so he can pick up some toiletries in case his suitcase doesn't arrive. It's the first time they're alone together and it's super awkward with small talk and just when Greg is about to have a serious conversation about his feeling for Pam, Jack asks him, "Greg, home come you don't like cats?" Greg tries to do damage control and tells him that he does like cats, but just prefers dogs over them. Jack calls them "an emotionally shallow animal" and that "cats make you work for your affection; they don't sell out like dogs do." Trust me, that logic doesn't work for my cat. If you give him food and pats and belly rubs, he is all purrs and cuddles.

Greg gets caught in a little white lie where he tells Jack that he grew up on a farm and pumped milk. At dinner that night, Jack asks him about it and Pam tells him that Greg is from Detroit. It cracked me up when Dina asks him, "Do they have many farms in Detroit?" I have never been to Detroit, but I imagine the answer is no! Greg has to clarify that he grew up in a farm-style house with lots of pets and he tells this crazy story about how he milked a mother cat (who apparently had a litter of 30 cats!) so he could feed a little runt that wasn't able to get any milk. He tells them that you can milk anything with nipples and this is when we get the most quoted De Niro line since he uttered "You talkin' to me?" in Taxi Driver (I'm joking, but I'm not), which, of course, is, "I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?"

This is also the scene where Greg accidentally knocks over the urn with Jack's mother's ashes and Jinx uses it as a litter box. Greg will do a lot of dumb things over the next two days, but this one is probably the worst. Jack surprisingly forgives him (well, sort of!) pretty fast. Greg tells him that he feels horrible about what happened and Jack replies, "Well, it was a horrible thing, but let's just put it behind us and enjoy the weekend."

Jack has a little chat with Greg right before they're all getting ready to go to bed and I'm sure if Pam knew about this, she would be mortified. He tells him, "I'm a realist, I understand it's the 21st century and you've probably had premarital relationships with my daughter." I love that Greg just stares at him, not giving any indication that he has or hasn't. You know if he says yes, then Jack will get mad. And if he says no, Jack will call him a liar and get mad. So it's a lose-lose situation for him. Jack tells him he will be sleeping in the den and he doesn't want any funny business because "under my roof it's my way or the Long Island Express Way." Now, even though he says it's the 21st century, it was actually still the 20th century as the 21st century didn't start until 2001.

There are a lot of jokes about Greg being a nurse and his legal name (Gaylord) and I feel like they wouldn't fly today, because, really, is it that big of a deal for a guy to be a nurse? I don't think it is. But I guess since it was still the 20th century, those jokes were still okay to make.

Greg was under the impression that Jack was a horticulturist, but finds out he was actually in the CIA for 34 years and Pam never told him because it was "strictly on a need-to-know basis." He was a psychological profiler and was used to interrogate suspected double agents. This is the scene where he sets up a lie detector test for poor Greg. He tells Pam that he asked him if they were living together, something Pam made clear that she did not want Greg to tell her father, but he was saved when Dina interrupted them and was able to get out of the room. Pam tells Greg that her father is a human lie detector. Now, if she knew this about her own father, why is she making Greg lie about this if she knows her dad will probably be able to suss it out anyway? Jack tells Greg that he is now in the "Byrne family Circle of Trust" which is a running gag that goes into the next movie.

We find out Pam has a younger brother, Denny, the next morning when she's about to get Greg more clothes to borrow from her dad and he tells her he feels weird wearing her dad's clothes and underwear. Pam tells him to borrow some from her brother, who's still sleeping. It appears that Denny still lives at home and he's either in high school or college, but it's just so weird that we've already spent an entire day with the Byrnes and weren't introduced to him or Pam didn't say something about him. I think this might be some kind of joke that he's invisible because there will be a scene later on when Jack is looking for him and he yells his name a couple of times and his son is literally in the same room, sitting on the couch. ("I'm right here, Dad!") Anyway, Pam really annoyed me in this scene because she tells Greg to go wake up her brother, who he has never met, mind you, and ask to borrow his clothes, which includes underwear. That's a bit of a forward thing, don't you think, PAM? Why don't you ask your brother if he can lend clothes to your boyfriend, PAM?

Besides meeting Denny, Greg also meet's Pam's sister, Debbie and her fiance, Bob and his parents. (His dad is played by the late character actor James Rebhorn. Even if you don't recognize the name, you would definitely recognize him as he's been in a ton of things). They are all going to have a pre-wedding lunch at the Best Man's house. Okay, let's see if I can get this straight: the Best Man, Kevin (Owen Wilson) is also Pam's ex-fiance and he and Bob went to lacrosse camp together. Greg is very intimidated by Kevin because not only does he get along great with Jack, but he lives in this massive house with an indoor pool where they play volleyball. Greg, Jack, Denny, and Bob's dad are on one team and Pam, Debbie, Kevin, and Bob are on the other team with the two moms watching. Poor Greg isn't doing too well so when his team has a huddle, Jack gets another jab into him and tells him, "Greg, nobody's expecting much out of you, so if I set you up with the ball, do you think you could spike it." So mean, but so funny. Greg gets a little too aggressive and he ends up smashing the ball into Debbie's face. It looked like she broke her nose because a lot of blood comes gushing out, but she's screaming, "My eye! My eye!" and in the next scene her eye is swollen shut. I love that Dina starts freaking out and jumps into the pool with all her clothes on. Let's review here: Debbie's fiance is in the pool. Her father is in the pool. Her sister is in the pool. Her brother is in the pool. There are plenty of people to come to her aid, and of course they all do.

Greg's day will only get worse when he accidentally sets the ornate altar that Kevin carved for Debbie and Bob's wedding on fire and when he loses Jinx by letting him outside when he's not supposed to. Naturally, this upsets Jack greatly, especially since they can't do the dress rehearsal without Jinx because he's the ring bearer! Debbie say, "We can't cancel the rehearsal because of some stupid cat." Outraged, Jack replies, "Stupid cat? How can you say that? That cat's been like a brother to you." I love he says that with Debbie's actual brother right there in the same room. Jack voices his concern for Jinx: "We're supposed to let him wander the streets without food, water, or toilet?" Pam volunteers Greg to look for Jinx. He goes to an animal shelter and sees a Himalayan that he's sure is Jinx but the guy points out in the photo that Greg brought with him that Jinx has an all black tail and this cat has a white tip on the tail. Greg spray paints the cat's tail and passes him off as Jinx. Surprisingly, it works and he's hailed as a hero. I really thought Jack was going to see right through him and know that cat wasn't his, but he gets a message from his neighbor that night telling him that they have Jinx at their house.

They all come home from a rehearsal dinner that night to find that the impostor cat has gotten into all the wedding things, including the wedding dress. Jack accuses Greg of getting a Himalayan and passing it off as Jinx. In return, Greg accuses Jack of being back in the CIA business because he saw him have a meeting with some guy at the drug store who gave him some passports and overheard him talking in Thai on the phone. (I seriously would not know what Thai even sounds like!) Jack says that he was planning a surprise honeymoon for the newlyweds to Thailand and is angry at Greg for ruining the surprise. Things are just spiraling out of control and even Pam thinks Greg should leave, so he heads to the airport with his bag which he has just gotten.

I was under the impression that Jack wanted his daughter to marry Kevin because they were buddies and he was really successful and he had respect for him and that's why he was such a jerk to Greg, but we learn from Dina that he didn't warm up to Kevin until after they broke up, which is a bit weird that her dad is buddy-buddy with her ex, but whatever. Dina tells him, "Nobody is good enough for your Pam" and he realizes this is true and heads to the airport to make things right with Greg. I'm glad they didn't have both parents be crazy and at least there's a reasonable parent, or I would have really felt bad for Greg! They wait to make both parents crazy in the second movie!

Meanwhile, at the airport, Greg has been kicked off the plane when he got into a fight with the flight attendant about his bag not fitting in the overhead department. He tells her, "It's not like I have a bomb in here! It's not like I want to blow up the plane!" This, of course, gets him kicked off the plane. Even in a pre-9/11 world, you could NOT say the word "bomb" on a plane! (The same actress will return as the flight attendant in the second movie for a brief moment and if I hadn't watched these movies back to back, I would have never even noticed that!)  Jack is able to talk to him and asks him if he wants to marry Pam and Greg tells him, "I did until I met you" which is really sad that he would not want to marry the love of his life because he's terrified of his girlfriend's father. Jack feels bad about this and says, "If I lighten up, would you consider marrying my daughter?" (Spoiler alert: he does NOT lighten up!) Greg agrees to this after standing up to Jack and asking him not to interfere with their lives so much and to stop making fun of him for being a nurse. They go back to the house, where, of course, he proposes to Pam (and uses Mr. Jinx to carry the ring on a little pillow...how adorable!)

Now it's time to meet the Fockers! Greg and Pam aren't married yet, but they're having their wedding in the near future. In the meantime, they're planning a trip to Florida with Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes so the two sets of parents can meet before the wedding. Nothing can absolutely go wrong with this plan! It has already been established that Pam has met the Fockers several times. It makes me wonder how that went. If Greg was worried about meeting HER parents, I bet he was much more concerned about his girlfriend meeting his parents! But nobody really cares about Pam meeting her future in-laws for the first time and the funnier story is the uptight and conservative Jack meeting the kooky and hippie-dippy Fockers for the first time.

They're all driving to Florida from New York in a huge RV with a cat (Mr. Jinx is back!) and Jack and Dina's one-year-old grandson they call "LJ" for Little Jack. He is Debbie and Bob's son and they are watching him while his parents are in Thailand (you remember, where they went for their honeymoon) opening a clinic. Wait, what clinic? It really makes no sense for this tot to be in the movie. He is only used as a plot device for a couple humorous scenes. If this were real life and grandparents were watching their grandson, they would NOT go on a trip across the country to visit their daughter's fiance's parents. No, they would reschedule when they weren't watching a one-year-old. Also, taking Mr. Jinx sounds like a really bad idea too. I would be worried that every time the RV stopped for a pit stop and the doors opened, the cat would get out and run away.

Father and Mother Focker
When they get to Florida and meet Bernie and Roz Focker (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand), Dina at least has the decency to be polite, but you can sense the irritation coming from Jack. I can't say I really blame him. Bernie is one of those touchy-feely people who hugs people and plants raspberries on their necks. Look, a hug is fine, but don't kiss me, especially if we're meeting for the first time. Roz is a sex therapist for older couples and Greg wants her to keep that under wraps until they've gotten to know the Byrnes a bit better. He has to hide all these embarrassing statues and paintings of naked people in the den where Jack and Dina will be staying. His parents are very open about their sex life and this leads to a lot of embarrassing moments for poor Greg.

Bernie shows the Byrnes the "Wall of Gaylord" where they have displayed all of Greg's "accomplishments". Jack sees a medal ribbon and says, "I didn't know they made 9th place ribbons and Bernie tells him, "They got them all the way up to 10th place." (Really? I thought they only went up to 3rd place). Jack is not impressed.

There is a good call back to the first movie when Bernie toasts Pam and tells her if he had a daughter, he's want her to be just like Pam. Jack questions Greg about him telling him he had a sister and had milked her cat. Greg does not respond at all, just ignores him.

Pam tells Greg that she's pregnant and they decide to move the wedding up to June instead of October.They also agree not to tell anyone about the pregnancy until after the wedding, but Roz finds out and she tells Bernie and Pam ends up telling her mother, so Jack is the only one who doesn't know.

Even though I still maintain the baby had no reason being in this movie, there is a funny use of him in a scene where everyone is having dinner and the Focker's voluptuous Puerto Rican housekeeper, Isabel, who Greg had a crush on when he was a teenager, says hello to everyone and sees LJ. She automatically assumes he's Greg's and Pam's and says, "Ooh, he's a handsome little Focker" which elicited a giggle from me. Jack is quick to tell her that he's Pam's nephew and "he has no connection to Greg whatsoever." Even though they've made progress since the first movie, Jack is still not too keen on Greg and meeting his parents probably doesn't help matters. Greg is mortified when his parents reveal to the Brynes' that Greg lost his virginity to Isabel when he was 19. Jack does some investigating with this information and finds out that Isabel has a 15-year-old son, Jorge, who suspiciously looks a lot like Greg, who, coincidentally, was 19 fifteen years ago. The teenager has never met his dad and doesn't know who he is. He is sure that Greg knows about this and has been keeping it a secret from Pam and plans to out him by giving him truth serum at an engagement party Greg's parents are throwing for them. Fifty Fockers are expected to attend. "Fifty Fockers. What could be better?"

Jack invites Jorge to the party and introduces him to Greg, telling him that he's 15 and has never met his dad and plants doubt in Greg's mind that this could be his son. When he gives a speech, Greg reveals he may have a son he never knew about and that Pam is pregnant. It turns out Jorge is not Greg's son (maybe Isabel has a certain type) and everyone is angry at Jack when it is revealed he gave truth serum to Greg. Jack also finds out that everyone knew about the pregnancy and is hurt by this. He leaves, but Greg and his dad go to find him, yada, yada, yada, everyone is happy again and Greg and Pam get married.