Little Fockers, the third film in the Meet the Parents franchise, currently has a 6 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is bad — very bad. While, sadly, this has not translated into as many “fock this” puns as we would like (though there were a few! “Shut the Fockers up” and “There’s really no focking place for the franchise to go anymore” among them), it has provided critics with an occasion to get really, really bitchy. See for instance the Boston Globe’s description of Jessica Alba’s performance as being “like she has to pee really badly in every one of her scenes,” and the Post’s way harsh “Little Fockers may not be the worst, most vulgar, most pathetic and least funny picture of the year. But it’s a strong contender for second place behind the picture Brett Favre allegedly sent over his cellphone.” Of the many things that offended critics about this film (endless “Gay Focker” jokes, that Alba’s character is named Andi Garcia and somehow this is supposed to be hysterical), none broke their hearts quite like a scene between Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, who have collaborated on six films, including Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, and here do a disservice to their legacy. How much of a disservice? Let’s see!
“De Niro and Harvey Keitel, as a lazy contractor, come face to face and … yell boringly at each other about a hole in the ground that isn’t supposed to be there. One wonders at what point, on the set, Harvey and Bob caught each other in a gaze that said, ‘You know — we did ‘Mean Streets’ and ‘Taxi Driver’ together.’ More likely: They simply averted their glances in shame.” —New York Post
“For moviegoers who were around in the 1970s, here’s the saddest part: Harvey Keitel shows up in the small role of Greg’s house contractor and gets a one-scene face-off with De Niro’s Jack. The two men circle each other for a few seconds, like pitbulls descended from Brando, and then it’s over before it begins. Little Fockers is the sixth movie the actors have appeared in together and it’s easily the laziest and least; what started with Mean Streets and Taxi Driver has come down to … this. They should have just brought in Pacino and called it Mother Fockers. Note to the producers: I’m kidding.” —Boston Globe
“Mr. De Niro might not mind making mincemeat of his own legacy, as a painful bit with a grinning Harvey Keitel suggests. (Somewhere, Martin Scorsese is lighting a votive candle.).” —New York Times
“The movie is so starved for ideas, in fact, that it promisingly reunites De Niro with his old partner in crime, Harvey Keitel — and then can’t come up with anything for the two of them to do except stand around in a backyard and argue about how to fill up a gaping hole.” —Star Ledger
“The fact that De Niro and Keitel, legends of the cinema, are reduced to trading weak-kneed insults in a watered-down sequel like this is a shame.” —Washington Post
“A confrontation between De Niro and Harvey Keitel as Greg’s housing contractor could have been a real hoot given the long history between the two actors, pals since their early days in Martin Scorsese films. But it’s just stiff, awkward and humorless, like the rest of the movie.” —AP