The potential catastrophes are outlined in the 2000 black comedy, Meet the Parents, starring Ben Stiller as the hapless boyfriend who couldn’t make a worse impression if he tried.
Distributed by Universal Studios, Meet the Parents took more than £330 million at the box office worldwide, earning back its budget of $55 million in the first 11 days and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the year. Stiller stars as Greg Focker, who is a male nurse planning to propose to his girlfriend, Pam Byrnes, played by Teri Polo. First, he must meet her parents.
Overbearing Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) and his wife Dina (Blythe Danner) finally meet Greg at a family wedding. Greg is planning to propose to Pam after asking her father’s permission, but the situation gets off to a terrible start when the airline loses his luggage.
On arriving at the Byrnes’ luxurious home, Greg tries to impress Jack who is a retired CIA officer. Unfortunately, Jack despises Greg’s career as a nurse and openly criticises him. The situation gets worse during dinner, when Greg is asked to say grace. All he can think of saying is the lyrics of Day by Day from the rock musical, Godspell!
When Greg accidentally breaks an urn containing Jack’s mother’s ashes – and the Byrnes’ cat Jinx uses it as cat litter – the situation seems hopeless. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does: while playing volleyball, Greg accidentally breaks Teri’s sister Debbie’s nose! Then, he inadvertently breaks the toilet and floods the Byrnes’ back garden with sewage, before losing Jinx the cat and replacing him with a feral cat, who wrecks the house.
When Pam’s ex-boyfriend Kevin then turns up, Jack makes no secret of the fact he much prefers him to Greg, welcoming him with open arms. This leads Greg to try even harder to impress Jack, but once it comes to light that he tried to hide Jinx’s disappearance by substituting another cat, it seems it’s the end of the road for Greg. Jack throws him out, with the backing of the rest of the family, including Pam.
Desperate to win Pam back, Greg tells the family that Jack has been lying to them about being retired from the CIA, trying to show him in a bad light and claiming he’s heard him planning a secret operation. Unfortunately, the top-secret operation is, in fact, a surprise honeymoon for Debbie and her new husband, so Greg ruins the surprise. Greg goes to the airport and prepares to fly home alone when the situation seems beyond salvation.
However, when Jack sees how upset Pam is and realises she genuinely loves Greg, he rushes to the airport to invite him to come back. Just when it seems like we’re in for a happy ending – as Greg proposes to Pam and she accepts – Jack sees video footage of Greg doing all kinds of sneaky things on CCTV cameras hidden around the house, potentially stirring up all the trouble again. This paves the way nicely for Meet the Fockers – the 2004 sequel.
Luckily, not all first meetings are as disastrous as the example portrayed in Meet the Parents! Don’t leave anything to chance and contact &Meetings on 0800 073 0499 to book meeting rooms in London… your meeting is sure to get off to a flying start!