Sagging Bull

Stiller and De Niro square off in the big-screen sitcom Meet the Parents

Without De Niro, of course, the film wouldn't work: Only he possesses baggage and balls enough to make Jack menacing just beneath the placid, suburban surface. But he's still slumming it, scowling on autopilot as he mutters “Focker” over and over again long after the joke's lost its punch. After The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Flawless, it's nice to see De Niro without that embarrassed look on his face, but he still plays comedy as though it's beneath him -- a paycheck. One wonders if this is how he'll spend the second half of his career: goofing on the first half.

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