There's not so much a whiff as a stench of desperation about the third chapter in the hugely popular Meet The Parents series. John Hamburg, who co-wrote the screenplays for the first two instalments, seems to have dusted off all of the (wisely) rejected scenes from his earlier drafts and pasted them together with a gossamer thin narrative about patriarchs on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Any sense of joy, which coursed through Meet The Parents and Meet The Fockers, has completely evaporated, leaving us with characters, who we had come to love, desperately in search of a dramatic purpose.
Most ridiculous of all, Dustin Hoffman is sidelined for almost the entire film because his character has apparently decided to study flamenco in Seville.
Hapless male nurse Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) is blissfully in love with his wife Pam (Teri Polo) and his twins, Samantha (Daisy Tahan) and Henry (Colin Baiocchi). The feisty daughter is giving her father the silent treatment, while the boy is becoming fussy about his food.
It's hassle that Greg could do without as he considers
a lucrative job offer from pretty drugs rep Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba).
Pam's father, retired CIA operative Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), continues to view Greg with suspicion and isn't sure that his son-in-law is made of the right material to lead the Byrne clan.
Tensions escalate with the unexpected arrival of old flame Kevin (Owen Wilson), meanwhile, Jack's wife Dina (Blythe Danner) tries to reinvigorate their staid marriage by taking advice from Greg's mother Roz (Barbra Streisand), who has her own TV show that advises viewers to "Sexpress Yourself".
Little Fockers is a crushing disappointment.
Were the cast not paid so handsomely for this nonsense, we might feel sorry for Oscar winner De Niro being reduced to an unsightly protrusion, or Stiller suffering a full blast of projectile vomiting in the face.
Instead, we feel nothing but incredulity that someone didn't question the lack of a credible script before the film began shooting. A coda – set at Christmas ominously baits the hook for another film, so I know what I'm asking Santa for this year: the end of the Focker dynasty.