"Dad", "Dads", "Fatherhood", and "Fathering" redirect here. For the journal, see Fathering (journal). For other uses, see Dad (disambiguation), Fatherhood (disambiguation), and Father (disambiguation).
A father is the male parent of a child. Besides the paternal bonds of a father to his children, the father may have a parental, legal, and social relationship with the child that carries with it certain rights and obligations. An adoptive father is a male who has become the child's parent through the legal process of adoption. A biological father is the male genetic contributor to the creation of the infant, through sexual intercourse or sperm donation. A biological father may have legal obligations to a child not raised by him, such as an obligation of monetary support. A putative father is a man whose biological relationship to a child is alleged but has not been established. A stepfather is a male who is the husband of a child's mother and they may form a family unit, but who generally does not have the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent in relation to the child.
The adjective "paternal" refers to a father and comparatively to "maternal" for a mother. The verb "to father" means to procreate or to sire a child from which also derives the noun "fathering". Biological fathers determine the sex of their child through a sperm cell which either contains an X chromosome (female), or Y chromosome (male). Related terms of endearment are dad (dada, daddy), papa, pappa, papasita, (pa, pap) and pop. A male role model that children can look up to is sometimes referred to as a father-figure.
The paternity rights of a father with regard to his children differ widely from country to country often reflecting the level of involvement and roles expected by that society.
- Paternity leave
Parental leave is when a father takes time off to support his newly born or adopted baby. Paid paternity leave first began in Sweden in 1976, and is paid in more than half of European Union countries. In the case of male same-sex couples the law often makes no provision for either one or both fathers to take paternity leave.
- Child custody
Fathers' rights movements such as Fathers 4 Justice argue that family courts are biased against fathers.
- Child support
Child support is an ongoing periodic payment made by one parent to the other; it is normally paid by the parent who does not have custody.
- Paternity fraud
An estimated 2% of British fathers experiences paternity fraud during a non-paternity event, bringing up a child they wrongly believe to be their biological offspring.
Role of the father
In almost all cultures fathers are regarded as secondary caregivers. This perception is slowly changing with more and more fathers becoming primary caregivers, while mothers go to work or in single parenting situations, male same-sex parenting couples.
- Fatherhood in the Western World
In the West, the image of the married father as the primary wage-earner is changing. The social context of fatherhood plays an important part in the well-being of men and all their children. In the United States 16% of single parents were men as of 2013.
- Importance of father or father-figure
Involved fathers offer developmentally specific provisions to their children and are impacted themselves by doing so. Active father figures may play a role in reducing behavior and psychological problems in young adults. An increased amount of father–child involvement may help increase a child's social stability, educational achievement, and their potential to have a solid marriage as an adult. Their children may also be more curious about the world around them and develop greater problem solving skills. Children who were raised with fathers perceive themselves to be more cognitively and physically competent than their peers without a father. Mothers raising children together with a father reported less severe disputes with their child.
The father-figure is not always a child's biological father and some children will have a biological father as well as a step- or nurturing father. When a child is conceived through sperm donation, the donor will be the "biological father" of the child.
Fatherhood as legitimate identity can be dependent on domestic factors and behaviors. For example, a study of the relationship between fathers, their sons, and home computers found that the construction of fatherhood and masculinity required that fathers display computer expertise.
Determination of parenthood
Roman law defined fatherhood as "Mater semper certa; pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant" ("The [identity of the] mother is always certain; the father is whom the marriage vows indicate"). The recent emergence of accurate scientific testing, particularly DNA testing, has resulted in the family law relating to fatherhood experiencing rapid changes.
History of fatherhood
The link between sexual acts and procreation can be empirically identified, but is not immediately evident. Conception cannot be directly observed, whereas birth is obvious. The extended time between the two events makes it difficult to establish the link between them. It is theorised that some cultures have ignored that males impregnate females. Procreation was sometimes even considered to be an autonomous 'ability' of women: men were essential to ensure the survival and defence of the social group, but only women could enhance and reintegrate it through their ability to create new individuals. This gave women a role of primary and indisputable importance within their social groups.
This situation may have persisted throughout the Palaeolithic age. Some scholars assert that Venus figurines are evidence of this. During the transition to the Neolithic age, agriculture and cattle breeding became the core activities of a growing number of human communities. Breeding, in particular, is likely to have led women – who used to spend more time than men taking care of the cattle – to gradually discover the procreative effect of the sexual act between a male and a female.
For communities which looked at sexuality as simply a source of pleasure and an element of social cohesion, without any taboo character, this discovery must have led to some disruption. This would impact not only regulation of sexuality, but the whole political, social, and economic system. The shift in understanding would have necessarily taken a long time, but this would not have prevented the implications being relatively dramatic. Eventually, these implications led to the model of society which – in different times and shapes – was adopted by most human cultures.
Traditionally, caring for children is predominantly the domain of mothers, whereas fathers in many societies provide for the family as a whole. Since the 1950s, social scientists and feminists have increasingly challenged gender roles, including that of the male breadwinner. Policies are increasingly targeting fatherhood as a tool of changing gender relations.
Canadian Fatherhood in the Interwar Era
Fatherhood in Canada during the Interwar Period was a time of imposed change, led by state and expert advisement. A response to the impact of World War I on the male population, the Canadian government and citizens attempted to establish a “normalcy” of the family model which consisted of the stay-at-home mother and the breadwinner father as the ideal parental model. The challenge of this established normalcy was that few Canadians outside of the urban middle-class had ever seen this model in their households. Also, advice that was given to fathers at this time without sufficient recommendations on how to implement the standards of good fatherhood. Furthermore, expectations on fathers; and the actual practices of fathers were often different.
World War I's impact on fathers and fathers to be was devastating. Approximately 650,000 Canadian men served in the Armed Forces, and approximately 60,000 were killed, with another 60,000 bearing physical disabilities as a result of injuries. In this time period, very few programs or systems of support existed to help soldiers returning home. Because of this, many survivors of the War turned to drinking, distanced themselves from their families and lashed out at loved ones.
In response to this, government, academic and private institutions brought in experts in medicine, psychology, social work and education with the purpose of establishing a standard of good fathering. This advice was tailored to Anglo-Canadian working-class fathers, but was not written exclusively for them. According to these experts, a father was someone who was the main economic provider of the family, athletic, moral, devoted a portion of his time to his children and was a good husband to his wife. The expectation for fathers’ roles in the lives of their children was to be the authoritative figure of the household who showed love to his family by devoting the majority of his efforts to working and providing financially. A good father was also deemed to be someone who would bring other experts into the process of childrearing, including doctors, nurses, social workers and teachers.
Fathers were also expected to devote a period of time towards their children. Fathers were recommended to spend one hour per week with their sons. Most advice was directed towards the relationship between a father and his son, which encouraged temperance of a father’s response to questions and spending time with boys playing with and coaching them in sports. This amount of time was recognized to be short, but it was deemed better than not spending time with their children at all. Many labour organizations also argued for shorter work weeks as a means of increasing “family time,” for working-class fathers. Many fathers were unable to increase time spent with their children though due to long work days and work weeks.
Although expectations were high for fathers to be the breadwinners for their family, the economic nature of Canada and lack of support often led to differing results. The job market in the Great Depression often did not allow for fathers to provide for their families on a single income and receiving government assistance was seen as a 'personal failure' by many fathers. Since the identity of a father was so rooted in his ability to match the breadwinner model, the inability for a father to provide financially meant that many father's identities as successful members of the family were challenged. Also, although there was an expectation that fathers should be more gentle and temperate towards their children, fathers were often feared by their children.
In early human history there have been notable instances of patricide. For example:
- Tukulti-Ninurta I (r. 1243–1207 B.C.E.), Assyrian king, was killed by his own son after sacking Babylon.
- Sennacherib (r. 704–681 B.C.E.), Assyrian king, was killed by two of his sons for his desecration of Babylon.
- King Kassapa I (473 to 495 CE) creator of the Sigiriya citadel of ancient Sri Lanka killed his father king Dhatusena for the throne.
- Emperor Yang of Sui in Chinese history allegedly killed his father, Emperor Wen of Sui.
- Beatrice Cenci, Italian noblewoman who, according to legend, killed her father after he imprisoned and raped her. She was condemned and beheaded for the crime along with her brother and her stepmother in 1599.
- Lizzie Borden (1860–1927) allegedly killed her father and her stepmother with an axe in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892. She was acquitted, but her innocence is still disputed.
- Iyasus I of Ethiopia (1682–1706), one of the great warrior emperors of Ethiopia, was deposed by his son Tekle Haymanot in 1706 and subsequently assassinated.
In more contemporary history there have also been instances of father–offspring conflicts, such as:
- Chiyo Aizawa murdered her own father who had been raping her for fifteen years, on October 5, 1968, in Japan. The incident changed the Criminal Code of Japan regarding patricide.
- Kip Kinkel (1982- ), an Oregon boy who was convicted of killing his parents at home and two fellow students at school on May 20, 1998.
- Sarah Marie Johnson (1987- ), an Idaho girl who was convicted of killing both parents on the morning of September 2, 2003.
- Dipendra of Nepal (1971–2001) reportedly massacred much of his family at a royal dinner on June 1, 2001, including his father King Birendra, mother, brother, and sister.
- Christopher Porco (1983- ), was convicted on August 10, 2006, of the murder of his father and attempted murder of his mother with an axe.
- Baby Daddy – A biological father who bears financial responsibility for a child, but with whom the mother has little or no contact.
- Birth father – the biological father of a child who, due to adoption or parental separation, does not raise the child or cannot take care of one.
- Biological father – or just "Father" is the genetic father of a child
- Posthumous father – father died before children were born (or even conceived in the case of artificial insemination)
- Putative father – unwed man whose legal relationship to a child has not been established but who is alleged to be or claims that he may be the biological father of a child
- Sperm donor – an anonymous or known biological father who provides his sperm to be used in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation in order to father a child for a third party female. Also used as a slang term meaning "baby daddy".
- Surprise father – where the men did not know that there was a child until possibly years afterward
- Teenage father/youthful father – Father who is still a teenager.
Non-biological (social and legal relationship)
- Adoptive father – the father who has adopted a child
- Cuckolded father – where the child is the product of the mother's adulterous relationship
- DI Dad – social/legal father of children produced via Donor Insemination (where a donor's sperm were used to impregnate the DI Dad's spouse)
- Father-in-law – the father of one's spouse
- Foster father – child is raised by a man who is not the biological or adoptive father usually as part of a couple.
- Mother's partner – assumption that current partner fills father role
- Mother's husband – under some jurisdictions (e.g. in Quebec civil law), if the mother is married to another man, the latter will be defined as the father
- Presumed father – Where a presumption of paternity has determined that a man is a child's father regardless of if he actually is or is not the biological father
- Social father – where a man takes de facto responsibility for a child, such as caring for one who has been abandoned or orphaned (the child is known as a "child of the family" in English law)
- Stepfather – a married non-biological father where the child is from a previous relationship
Fatherhood defined by contact level
- Absent father – father who cannot or will not spend time with his child(ren)
- Second father – a non-parent whose contact and support is robust enough that near parental bond occurs (often used for older male siblings who significantly aid in raising a child)
- Stay-at-home dad – the male equivalent of a housewife with child, where his spouse is breadwinner
- Weekend/holiday father – where child(ren) only stay(s) with father on weekends, holidays, etc.
For some animals, it is the fathers who take care of the young.
- Darwin's frog (Rhinoderma darwini) fathers carry eggs in the vocal pouch.
- Most male waterfowls are very protective in raising their offspring, sharing scout duties with the female. Examples are the geese, swans, gulls, loons, and a few species of ducks. When the families of most of these waterfowls travel, they usually travel in a line and the fathers are usually the ones guarding the offspring at the end of the line while the mothers lead the way.
- The female seahorse (hippocampus) deposits eggs into the pouch on the male's abdomen. The male releases sperm into the pouch, fertilizing the eggs. The embryos develop within the male's pouch, nourished by their individual yolk sacs.
- Male catfish keep their eggs in their mouth, foregoing eating until they hatch.
- Male emperor penguins alone incubate their eggs; females do no incubation. Rather than building a nest, each male protects his egg by balancing it on the tops of his feet, enclosed in a special brood pouch. Once the eggs are hatched however, the females will rejoin the family.
- Male beavers secure their offspring along with the females during their first few hours of their lives. As the young beavers mature, their fathers will teach them how to search for materials to build and repair their own dams, before they disperse to find their own mates.
- Wolf fathers help feed, protect, and play with their pups. In some cases, several generations of wolves live in the pack, giving pups the care of grandparents, aunts/uncles, and siblings, in addition to parents. The father wolf is also the one who does most of the hunting when the females are securing their newborn pups.
- Coyotes are monogamous and male coyotes hunt and bring food to their young.
- Dolphin fathers help in the care of the young. Newborns are held on the surface of the water by both parents until they are ready to swim on their own.
- A number of bird species have active, caring fathers who assist the mothers, such as the waterfowls mentioned above.
- Apart from humans, fathers in few primate species care for their young. Those that do are tamarins and marmosets. Particularly strong care is also shown by siamangs where fathers carry infants after their second year. In titi and owl monkeys fathers carry their infants 90% of the time with "titi monkey infants developing a preference for their fathers over their mothers".Silverback gorillas have less role in the families but most of them serve as an extra protecting the families from harm and sometimes approaching enemies to distract them so that his family can escape unnoticed.
Many species, though, display little or no paternal role in caring for offspring. The male leaves the female soon after mating and long before any offspring are born. It is the females who must do all the work of caring for the young.
- A male bear leaves the female shortly after mating and will kill and sometimes eat any bear cub he comes across, even if the cub is his. Bear mothers spend much of their cubs' early life protecting them from males. (Many artistic works, such as advertisements and cartoons, depict kindly "papa bears" when this is the exact opposite of reality.)
- Domesticated dog fathers show little interest in their offspring, and unlike wolves, are not monogamous with their mates and are thus likely to leave them after mating.
- Male lions will tolerate cubs, but only allow them to eat meat from dead prey after they have had their fill. A few are quite cruel towards their young and may hurt or kill them with little provocation. A male who kills another male to take control of his pride will also usually kill any cubs belonging to that competing male. However, it is also the males who are responsible for guarding the pride while the females hunt. However the male lions are the only felines that actually have a role in fatherhood.
- Male rabbits generally tolerate kits but unlike the females, they often show little interest in the kits and are known to play rough with their offspring when they are mature, especially towards their sons. This behaviour may also be part of an instinct to drive the young males away to prevent incest matings between the siblings. The females will eventually disperse from the warren as soon as they mature but the father does not drive them off like he normally does to the males.
- Horse stallions and pig boars have little to no role in parenting, nor are they monogamous with their mates. They will tolerate young to a certain extent, but due to their aggressive male nature, they are generally annoyed by the energetic exuberance of the young, and may hurt or even kill the young. Thus, stud stallions and boars are not kept in the same pen as their young or other females.
Finally, in some species neither the father nor the mother provides any care.
- ^HUMAN GENETICS, MENDELIAN INHERITANCE retrieved 25 February 2012
- ^What is paternity leave?
- ^Mapped: Paid paternity leave across the EU...which countries are the most generous? Published by The Telegraph, 18 April 2016
- ^Fathers 4 Justice take their fight for rights across the Atlantic Published by The Telegraph, 8 May 2005
- ^One in 50 British fathers unknowingly raises another man's child Published by The Telegraph, April 6, 2016
- ^Garfield, CF, Clark-Kauffman, K, David, MM; Clark-Kauffman; Davis (Nov 15, 2006). "Fatherhood as a Component of Men's Health". Journal of the American Medical Association. 19 (19): 2365. doi:10.1001/jama.296.19.2365.
- ^"Facts for Features". Archived from the original on April 24, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
- ^Children Who Have An Active Father Figure Have Fewer Psychological And Behavioral Problems
- ^United States. National Center for Fathering, Kansas City, MO. Partnership for Family Involvement in Education. A Call to Commitment: Fathers' Involvement in Children's Learning. June 2000
- ^Golombok, S; Tasker, F; Murray, C. "Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: family relationships and the socioemotional development of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers". J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 38: 783–91. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1997.tb01596.x. PMID 9363577.
- ^Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: a follow-up of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers at early adolescence
- ^Ribak, Rivka (2001). ""Like immigrants": negotiating power in the face of the home computer". New media & society. 3 (2): 220–238. doi:10.1177/1461444801003002005.
- ^James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, vol. 5-6, Robarts, Toronto, 1914
- ^Jean Markale, La femme Celt/Women of the Celts, Paris, London, New York, 1972
- ^ abJean Przyluski, La Grande Déesse, Payot, Paris, 1950
- ^Jacques Dupuis, Au nome du pére. Une histoire de la paternité, Lo Rocher, 1987
- ^Margaret Mead, Male and female, William Morrow & C., New York, 1949
- ^Bjørnholt, M. (2014). "Changing men, changing times; fathers and sons from an experimental gender equality study"(PDF). The Sociological Review. 62 (2): 295–315. doi:10.1111/1467-954X.12156.
- ^Commachio, Cynthia 'A Postscript for Father': Defining a New Fatherhood in Interwar Canada, Canadian Historical Review 78, September 1997, pg. 391
- ^Edwards, An Old-Fashioned Father, Maclean's, 1 March 1934, 22
- ^Pines, We Want Perfect Parents, Chanteline, Sept. 1928, 31; Dr W.S. Hall, The Family and Family Life, Canadian Mentor 7, 1925.
- ^Blatz, W.E. Bott, H.M, Parents and the Preschool Child Toronto: J.M. Dent 1928, pg. 224-5
- ^MacMurchy, Mother Ottawa: King's Printer, 1928, pg. 15-16,
- ^Letters from a Schoolmaster, Maclean's, 15 April 1938, 43
- ^Letters from a Schoolmaster, Maclean's, 15 Feb. 1938,
- ^Commachio, "A Postscript for Fathers," pg. 404
- ^Palmer, B. and Kealey, G. Dreaming of What Might Be: The Knights of Labour in Ontario Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1982, 318;
- ^Changes in the Cost of Living in Canada from 1913 to 1937, Labour Gazette, June 1937, pg. 819-21
- ^Commachio, Cynthia 'A Postscript for Father': Defining a New Fatherhood in Interwar Canada, Canadian Historical Review 78, September 1997, pg. 394
- ^ abFernandez-Duque, E; Valeggia, CR; Mendoza, SP (2009). "Biology of Paternal Care in Human and Nonhuman Primates". Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 38: 115–30. doi:10.1146/annurev-anthro-091908-164334.
- ^Mendoza, SP; Mason, WA (1986). "Parental division of labour and differentiation of attachments in a monogamous primate (Callicebus moloch)". Anim. Behav. 34: 1336–47. doi:10.1016/s0003-3472(86)80205-6.
|Look up father in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fathers.|
- Inhorn, Marcia C.; Chavkin, Wendy; Navarro, José-Alberto, eds. (2015). Globalized fatherhood. New York: Berghahn. ISBN 9781782384373. Studies by anthropologists, sociologists, and cultural geographers -
- Kraemer, Sebastian (1991). "The Origins of Fatherhood: An Ancient Family Process". Family Process. 30 (4): 377–392. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1991.00377.x. PMID 1790784.
- Diamond, Michael J. (2007). My father before me : how fathers and sons influence each other throughout their lives. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 9780393060607.
- Collier, Richard (2013). "Rethinking men and masculinities in the contemporary legal profession: the example of fatherhood, transnational business masculinities, and work-life balance in large law firms". Nevada Law Journal, special issue: Men, Masculinities, and Law: A Symposium on Multidimensional Masculinities Theory. William S. Boyd School of Law. 13 (2): 7.
This article is about the 2000 film. For other uses, see Meet the Parents (disambiguation).
Meet the Parents is a 2000 American comedy film written by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg and directed by Jay Roach. Starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, the film chronicles a series of unfortunate events that befall a good-hearted but hapless male nurse while visiting his girlfriend's parents. Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, and Owen Wilson also star.
Meet the Parents is a remake of a 1992 film of the same name directed by Greg Glienna and produced by Jim Vincent. Glienna—who also played the original film's main protagonist—and Mary Ruth Clarke co-wrote the screenplay. Universal Studios purchased the rights to Glienna's film with the intent of creating a new version. Jim Herzfeld expanded the original script but development was halted for some time. Jay Roach read the expanded script and expressed his desire to direct the film but Universal declined him. At that time, Steven Spielberg was interested in directing the film while Jim Carrey was interested in playing the lead role. The studio only offered the film to Roach once Spielberg and Carrey left the project.
Released in the United States and Canada on October 6, 2000 and distributed by Universal Studios, the film earned back its initial budget of $55 million in only eleven days. It went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of 2000, earning over $160 million in North America and over $330 million worldwide. Meet the Parents was well received by film critics and viewers alike, winning several awards and earning additional nominations. Ben Stiller won two comedy awards for his performance and the film was chosen as the Favorite Comedy Motion Picture at the 2001 People's Choice Awards. The success of Meet the Parents inspired two film sequels, namely Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers released in 2004 and 2010 respectively. Meet the Parents also inspired a reality television show titled Meet My Folks and a situation comedy titled In-Laws, both of them debuting on NBC in 2002.
Gaylord "Greg" Focker (Ben Stiller) is a nurse living in Chicago. He intends to propose to his girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), but his plan is disrupted when he and Pam are invited to the wedding of Pam's sister, Debbie (Nicole DeHuff), at Pam's parents' house on Long Island. Greg decides to propose to Pam in front of her family but this plan is put on hold when the airline company loses his luggage which contains the engagement ring.
At the Byrnes family home, Greg meets Pam's father Jack (Robert De Niro), mother Dina (Blythe Danner) and their beloved cat Mr. Jinx. Jack takes an instant dislike towards Greg and openly criticizes Greg for his choice of career as a male nurse and anything else he sees as a difference between Greg and the Byrnes family. Greg tries to impress Jack but his efforts fail. Greg becomes even more uncomfortable after he receives an impromptu lie detector test from Jack and later learns from Pam that her father is a retired CIA operative.
Meeting the rest of Pam's family and friends, Greg still feels like an outsider. Despite efforts to impress the family, Greg's inadvertent actions make him an easy target for ridicule and anger. During a volleyball game he causes Debbie a broken nose and a black eye, uses a malfunctioning toilet which floods the Byrnes' back yard with sewage, sets on fire the wedding altar, and several misunderstandings cause Jack to believe Greg is a marijuana user. Later, Greg loses Jinx and replaces him with a stray whose tail he spray paints to make him look like Mr. Jinx.
By now, the entire Byrnes family, including Pam, agrees that it is best for Greg to leave Long Island until the wedding concludes. Unwillingly, Greg goes to the airport where he is detained by airport security for insisting that his bag stay with him rather than be checked. Back at the Byrnes household, Jack tries to convince Pam that Greg was lying to her about everything. He claims to be unable to find proof of anyone named "Greg Focker" ever taking the Medical College Admission Test which Greg claimed he had passed with the initial intention of becoming a doctor. Upon learning that Greg's real first name is Gaylord, and being presented with proof from Pam that he did in fact pass the test, Jack rushes to the airport, convinces airport security to release Greg and brings him back to the Byrnes household.
As Greg is proposing to Pam, Jack and Dina listen in on their conversation from another room, agreeing that they should now meet Greg's parents. After Debbie's wedding, Jack views footage of Greg recorded by hidden cameras that he had placed strategically around the house.
"But I was trying to have in a kind of forties-farce way, the opportunity to create realistic characters, but heighten the comedic situations and predicaments a bit so that they're still very funny and there is still some very broad humor, but you would connect to the characters and completely identify with Ben Stiller's anxiety about not only meeting Robert De Niro's character and all, but the kind of characters from his past that come with him."
Greg Focker is a middle-class Jewish nurse whose social and cultural position is juxtaposed against the Byrnes family of upper-class White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. With respect to Greg as a Jew and a nurse when compared to the Byrnes and Banks families, a distinct cultural gap is created and subsequently widened. The cultural differences are often highlighted and Greg is repeatedly made aware of them. This serves to achieve comedic effect through character development and has also been commented upon as being indicative of thematic portrayal of Jewish characters' roles in modern film as well as being a prime example of how male nurses are portrayed in media. Speaking about character development in Meet the Parents, director Jay Roach stated that he wanted an opportunity to "do character-driven comedy" and "to create realistic characters, but heighten the comedic situations and predicaments."
Vincent Brook observes mainstream Hollywood cinema's tendency since the 1990s of incorporating Jewish liminality and "popularizing the Jew." He explains the "manly Jewish triumph" of characters like Jeff Goldblum's David Levinson in Independence Day and labels it as a "certain answer to America's yearnings for a new Jewish hero." This stands in direct contrast to the schlemiel or "the Jewish fool" which was seen to have been revitalized in the mid-1990s after faltering since the 1960s. The schlemiel, Brook explains, is an anti-hero in whose humiliation the audience finds supreme pleasure. Within that context, Brook describes Greg Focker's character as "the quintessential example of the postmodern schlemiel." The repeated embarrassing encounters that Greg faces with his girlfriend's all-American family is compared to the example of Jason Biggs's character Jim Levenstein of the American Pie film series where Levenstein is often the comedic centerpiece due to his repeated sexual embarrassments.
Anne Bower writes about Jewish characters at mealtime as part of the broader movement she believes started in the 1960s where filmmakers started producing work that explored the "Jewish self-definition." She postulates that the dinner table becomes an arena where Jewish characters are often and most pointedly put into "conflicts with their ethnic and sexual selves." She describes the example of Greg sitting down for dinner with the Byrnes family and being asked to bless the food. In this scene, Greg attempts to recite a prayer by improvising and, in doing so, launches into a recital of the song "Day by Day" from Act I of Godspell. Bower notes this scene as "particularly important for establishing the cultural distance" between the Jewish Greg and the Christian Byrnes. She noted that the social gap is further widened next morning when Greg is the last person to arrive at the breakfast table; he shows up wearing pajamas while everyone else is fully clothed. Here Greg is shown eating a bagel, which Bower argues as being a clear signifier of Jewishness.
Based on common misconceptions and stereotypes about men in nursing, Greg's profession is repeatedly brought up by Jack Byrnes in a negative context and the character of Greg Focker has come to be one of the best known film portrayals of a male nurse. Even though men dominated the profession in earlier times, there has been a feminization of the nursing profession over the course of the last century which has caused men in nursing to often be portrayed as misfits by the media. A common stereotype is that of a man who accepts a career in nursing as an unfortunate secondary career choice, either failing to become a physician or still trying to become one. Such stereotyping is due to a presumption that a man would prefer to be a physician but is unable to become one due to lack of intelligence or non-masculine attributes. Jack Byrnes is often seen openly criticizing Greg's career choice per his perception of nursing being an effeminate profession. In their book Men in Nursing: History, Challenges, and Opportunities authors Chad O'Lynn and Russell Tranbarger present this as an example of a negative portrayal. Commenting on the same issue but disagreeing, Barbara Cherry in her book Contemporary Nursing: Issues, Trends, & Management called the portrayal of Greg as a nurse "one of the most positive film portrayals of men who are nurses" and commented that Greg "humorously addresses and rises above the worst of all stereotypes that are endured by men in this profession." Sandy and Harry Summers in the book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk postulate that Greg's character, although intelligent and firm in his defense of his profession, "might have done more to rebut the stereotypes" while also reporting that "some men in nursing" expressed their opinions that it would have been better to not present the stereotypes at all.
Main article: Meet the Parents (1992 film)
Meet the Parents is a remake of a 1992 independent film of the same name. Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke wrote the original story and screenplay. Glienna also directed and starred in the 76 minute film which was filmed on 16 mm film in 1991 and released the following year. The 1992 film also marked one of only several film roles played by comedian Emo Philips which he also helped produce. Film producer Elliot Grove, founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards, listed the original Meet the Parents on his personal Top Ten list of favorite films where he called it "much funnier and tighter than the Hollywood version". The 1992 film was a featured entry in the 1995 Raindance Film Festival.
Producer Nancy Tenenbaum acquired the rights to the short film. After she sent a copy of the original film to several people of interest, filmmaker Steven Soderbergh replied that he was interested and that he wanted to direct a remake. He brought it to the attention of Universal Studios who initially declined but subsequently optioned the rights to the film in 1995. Soderbergh took on the project but then dropped it when he got involved with Out of Sight.
"...I think the film is fantastic, and I can't imagine a screenwriter being any happier with a film unless he directs it himself. Which, in this case, would've been a disaster since Jay is a brilliant director..."
Universal approached screenwriter Jim Herzfeld to expand the screenplay. Herzfeld expanded the modest script, completing the first draft as early as 1996. He initially presented it to Roach who had, up to that point, directed the first two Austin Powers films. Roach admits to have liked the script from the beginning and was very much willing to make the film even though he thought "it needed more work." Universal initially declined to have relatively inexperienced Roach take on the project. The studio was skeptical of Roach's ability to direct a "less-cartoony, character-driven script" compared to a comedy like Austin Powers. Universal's reluctance to give the project to Roach was also due to new interest from Steven Spielberg who wanted to direct and produce the film with Jim Carrey playing the role of Greg Focker. However, Spielberg and Carrey never took the project past the planning stages. The script was then returned to Roach who had by now taken on his next project of Mystery, Alaska but was still interested in making Meet the Parents.
The drafts of the script were written by Herzfeld and, once De Niro and Stiller were confirmed as stars, John Hamburg was brought on board "to help fit the script to their verbal styles." Due to changes in directorial and acting line-ups after the early drafts of the script were written, Hamburg kept adjusting and re-writing the script well after production had already begun.
Upon the suggestion of Universal Studios, Roach cast De Niro in the role of Jack Byrnes due to critical acclaim of De Niro's recent comedy work in films such as Analyze This and in the live-action/animated filmThe Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. De Niro's character Jack Byrnes is Pam's father and a retired CIA operative who is overly protective of his family and has a hard time warming up to his daughters' love interests. The script was not written with De Niro in mind as Jack Byrnes; the first draft of the script was completed in 1996, three years before De Niro appeared in Analyze This. However, shortly after De Niro finished filming The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Universal suggested to Roach that he should cast De Niro for the role to which Roach agrees that he had "no reservations whatsoever." In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, De Niro stated that he was in active pursuit of comedic roles since Analyze This. Admitting that he had initial reservations about starring in Meet the Parents, De Niro said that he felt "pushed into it" due to insistence by Jane Rosenthal—De Niro's partner in TriBeCa Productions who also acted as one of the producers of Meet the Parents. Screenwriter Jim Herzfeld and director Jay Roach both confirmed that, after committing to the project and reviewing the script, Robert De Niro was actually the person who came up with the idea for the famous polygraph test scene. Asked about working with De Niro given the serious nature of his previous roles, Ben Stiller said that "it was a little bit intimidating working with De Niro" but that he "has a great sense of humor and I think that's the biggest surprise about him."
Explaining how Ben Stiller came to be cast in the role of Greg, Roach states: "I saw Meet the Parents as an anxiety dream, and in my view nobody plays that kind of material better than Ben." Additionally, Roach was impressed with Stiller's creative and ad lib abilities stating that "he has lots of great ideas and he's very skilled at loose improvisation." Stiller's character Gaylord "Greg" Focker is a nurse who loves his girlfriend and tries desperately to impress her parents by any means which includes telling harmless little lies which are then covered up with bigger lies and elaborate cover-up schemes. The film's script was initially written with Jim Carrey in the role of Greg and contained much more physical comedy, something that Stiller did not think would be successful with himself playing the role. This resulted in deletion of some scenes but also in introduction of at least one unscripted scene that was completely improvised by Stiller. Roach cast Stiller only after it became clear that Carrey would not be taking on the role.
The consideration to play the character of Pam Byrnes—Greg's girlfriend who acts as a mediator between Greg and the Byrnes family, especially her father Jack—was initially given to Australian actress Naomi Watts. She ultimately lost the role to Teri Polo because the filmmakers "didn't think [Watts] was sexy enough".
Other characters in the film were played by Blythe Danner (as Dina Byrnes, Jack's wife and Pam's mother), Owen Wilson (as Kevin Rawley, Pam's ex-fiancée), Nicole DeHuff (as Debbie Byrnes, Pam's sister), Jon Abrahams (as Denny Byrnes, the youngest child of Jack and Dina Byrnes), Thomas McCarthy (as Bob Banks, Debbie's fiancé), and James Rebhorn (as Larry Banks, Bob Banks' father and a close friend of Jack's).Phyllis George, who is a former Miss Texas and Miss America pageant winner and has appeared on numerous television programs as a guest and a host, made her acting debut as Linda Banks, Larry's wife and Bob's mother.
The role of Mr. Jinx the cat was played by two five-year-old Himalayan cats named Bailey and Misha (sometimes written as Meesha). The American Humane Association oversaw the filming of all scenes where the cats were used and ensured the animals' obedience and well-being by keeping two trainers and a veterinarian on set at all times.
Greg Glienna did not come up with the surname Focker; Greg's character in the original film did not have a last name. The name was written into the script after Jim Carrey came up with the idea for the Focker surname during a creative session held before he abandoned the project. Once Meet the Parents was submitted for rating evaluation, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) questioned the surname Focker as possibly an expletive and, due to the repetitiveness of the surname throughout the film, the film was in danger of being rated R according to the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system. The filmmakers were asked if they had made up the name or if they can prove that such a name exists. The studio submitted to the MPAA a list of real people with the surname Focker which ensured that the film retained a PG-13 rating.
Meet the Parents had its theatrical release in United States and Canada on October 6, 2000. Distributed domestically by Universal Studios, the film had an advertising budget of $33.9 million. It quickly proved to be a financial success taking in $28.6 million during its opening weekend and averaging $10,950 per theater in a total of 2,614 theaters. It finished as the top earning film for the weekend of October 6–8 beating the second placer Remember the Titans by a margin of over $9 million and bringing in more than four times the earnings of Get Carter, the next highest earning film released that same weekend. The film's opening weekend earnings were the highest ever for any film released in the month of October as well as marking the highest opening weekend earnings for a film starring Robert De Niro. The film's earnings for the second week of release dropped by 26% down to $21.1 million, which still kept the film at No.1 at the box office beating Remember the Titans by a margin of over $8 million. By the end of the second week of release, the film had already grossed over $58 million, surpassing its production budget of $55 million. It spent its first four weeks of theatrical release as the highest-grossing film at the U.S. box office.Meet the Parents was displaced from No.1 during the weekend of November 3–5 by the newly released Charlie's Angels while still managing to stay ahead of The Legend of Bagger Vance, another new release that debuted at number 3. It remained in the Top 10 grossing films until its 11th week. In the United Kingdom, the film had its theatrical premiere on December 15, 2000 and was distributed by United International Pictures (UIP). There, it managed to earn over $21 million during its run. In Australia, also being distributed by UIP, it was released on December 26, 2000 where it earned over $11 million during the theatrical run.
At the end of its theatrical run on March 29, 2001 – 25 weeks after its opening day in North America, the film had grossed $166.2 million in the United States and a total of $330.4 million worldwide, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of the year both domestically and worldwide.
Meet the Parents was released on VHS & DVD on March 6, 2001. The DVD sales for the film were successful, taking in over $200 million for 2001.Billboard magazine listed the film as having the highest video sales for all weeks from March 31 up to and including April 21, being the top selling DVD for the weeks of March 24 and March 31, and being the top rented video for the weeks of April 7 and April 14.
The DVD release provides only the letterbox format of the film and is also 108 minutes in length. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 with an accommodation for an enhanced 16:9 playback. English language audio tracks available with the film are a 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS with the main noticeable difference being only a slightly louder bass on one of the tracks. A French language audio track is also available only in 5.1 Dolby Digital Format. Additionally, English language subtitles are provided as well.
The single disc "Collector's Edition" contains two audio commentaries, one a light-hearted and humorous discussion between Roach, Stiller, De Niro and producer Jane Rosenthal and the other a more formal technical commentary on the film-making aspects by the director and editor Jon Poll. The director discusses issues that include working with the cast, utilizing the best camera angles for comedic effect, discussing scenes that were improvised and scenes that were scripted, and commenting on issues surrounding shooting on location. The editor speaks about putting together the best functioning comedy from material that was filmed and discusses some deleted scenes that were excluded from the DVD release. In addition, the DVD features a twelve-minute outtake section, three minutes of deleted scenes, and Universal's Spotlight on Location featurette. Spotlight on Location is a standard 24-minute-long featurette about the making of the film which includes interviews with the cast members and contains behind-the-scenes footage. It also contains two games called Take The Lie Detector Test and The Forecaster Game as well as PC material such as wallpapers and screensavers. The region 2 edition of the DVD was released on October 22, 2001. A region 1 "Bonus Edition" was released on December 14, 2004 and contains three additional featurettes: Silly Cat Tricks, The Truth About Lying and a 12-minute-long Jay Roach: A Director's Profile.
Main article: Meet the Parents (soundtrack)
The original motion picture soundtrack for Meet the Parents was released on September 26, 2000 on the DreamWorks Records record label. The soundtrack features 14 original compositions by Randy Newman as well as additional tracks by Bobby Womack, Lee Dorsey, and Dr. John and a hidden bonus track. Newman's original song "A Fool in Love" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song—Newman's 14th Oscar nomination—at the 73rd Academy Awards but it ultimately lost to Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed" for Wonder Boys. For the same song, Newman also won the 16th Annual ASCAP Film & Television Music Award in the Top Box Office Films category and was nominated at the 5th Golden Satellite Awards in the Original Song category. Dan Goldwasser, in his review of the soundtrack for SoundtrackNet, gave credit to Newman and the soundtrack for doing "an excellent job keeping the humor level high."
"Making a funny but not mean, smart but not smug, broad but not lazy ensemble comedy about contemporary people in a realistic setting is hard. For which Meet the Parents is to be commended — it's a bouncy, loose-limbed, families-do-the-darnedest-things sitcom that elicits ungrudging laughs without invoking water boys, pet detectives, or Klumps."
The film received a generally positive response from film critics, being commended on the subtlety of its humor as well as being named as "the funniest" or "one of the funniest" films of the year by several critics. As of June 3, 2017, the aggregate review website Rotten Tomatoes registered an 84% positive response based on reviews from 146 critics and certified the film "Fresh" with an average rating of 6.9/10. As of the same date, Metacritic, another aggregate review website, registered a rating of 73 out of 100, based on 33 reviews, which is classified as "Generally favorable reviews" by the website's rating system.Kenneth Turan, film critic for Los Angeles Times, called it "the funniest film of the year so far, possibly the most amusing mainstream live-action comedy since There's Something About Mary." Critic Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal stated that the film "does almost everything right with a story about everything going wrong" and that it "works up a major comic delirium on the theme of Murphy's Law", concluding that "Meet the Parents is the funniest movie of the year."CNN's Paul Clinton proclaimed "Meet the Parents is one of the best comedies of this – or any other – year", calling it "wonderfully funny" and expressing his hope that "the Academy will also recognize this wonderful movie, something it rarely does when it comes to comedies"Time magazine's film critic Richard Schickel stated that the film was "divinely invented and perfectly orchestrated". He complimented the screenplay by calling the screenwriters Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg "a couple of skilled tool-and-die makers" as well as the acting cast because he believed that they "understand that palpable reality will always trump frenzied fantasy when it comes to getting laughs." Schickel concluded his review by proclaiming Meet the Parents a "superbly antic movie". Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine called the film "flat-out hilarious" and Neil Smith of BBC proclaimed that "there's not a weak scene in this super-funny picture" while awarding it a rating of five stars out of five. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four comparing the film to Roach's previous work on the Austin Powers film series and offering his opinion that "[Meet the Parents] is funnier because it never tries too hard." Critic Christopher Null of AMC's Filmcritic.com claimed that "Meet the Parents is one of the funniest comedies I've seen since Annie Hall". Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly called the script "unforced" and concluded that the film "goes down like a flute of Champagne, leaving an aftertaste of giggles."
However, Internet film critic James Berardinelli, in spite of awarding it two and a half stars out of four, gave the film a somewhat scathing review. On his website, Berardinelli wrote that "Meet the Parents is put together like a TV sit-com," that Roach "strings together a series of hit-and-miss lowbrow gags with little care for whether any of the connecting material is coherent, interesting, or enjoyable (in most cases, it's none of those three)" and concluding that "even with Stiller and De Niro, Meet the Parents is an encounter that can be postponed until it's available on video." Jeff Vice of the Deseret News, another detractor of the film, proclaimed Meet the Parents "only erratically funny" and accused Roach of taking "the cheap way out with a series of unfunny jokes." Critic Peter Bradshaw's review of the film in The Guardian concludes that Meet the Parents "is somehow less than the sum of its parts. It strains to come to life, but never quite makes it." After the film was released on home media, DVD reviewer and Rolling Stone magazine contributor Douglas Pratt in his book Doug Pratt's DVD: Movies, Television, Music, Art, Adult, and More! stated that "perhaps in the crowded theater the film is hysterical, but in the quieter venue of home video, it just seems sadistic, and as the humor evaporates, the holes in the plot become clearer."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The success of Meet the Parents was initially responsible for a 2002 NBCreality television show entitled Meet My Folks in which a young woman's love interest, vying for her family's approval, is interrogated by the woman's overprotective father with the help of a lie detector machine. In September 2002, NBC also aired a situation comedy entitled In-Laws. During the development of the sitcom, NBC called it "a Meet the Parents project" which prompted an investigation by Universal into whether NBC was infringing on Universal's copyright. Universal did not pursue any action against NBC but neither show lasted more than one season.
In 2004, Meet the Fockers was released as a sequel to Meet the Parents. Directed again by Jay Roach with a screenplay by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg, the sequel chronicles the events that take place when the Byrnes family meets Bernie and Roz Focker, Greg's parents, played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. The producers intended for Greg's parents to be the opposite of the Byrnes' conservative, upper class, WASPy demeanor; to that effect, producer Jane Rosenthal explains that "Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand were our dream team."Meet the Fockers proved to be another financial success grossing $280 million domestically and $516 million worldwide, outperforming Meet the Parents by a large margin and finishing as the fourth highest-grossing film of 2004.
In February 2007, Universal Studios announced that they would be making a second sequel in the franchise, titled Little Fockers. The film was to be directed by Roach with the screenplay written by Larry Stuckey, Roach's former assistant. The sequel brings back De Niro, Stiller, Polo, Danner as well as Hoffman and Streisand.
On July 18, 2005, a regularly scheduled American Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to San Juan, Puerto Rico had to be diverted back to Fort Lauderdale shortly after take-off due to a bomb threat. The pilot turned the airplane around approximately 40 minutes into the flight after a flight attendant found a crumpled napkin that read "Bomb, bomb, bomb ... meet the parents," a clear reference to the scene in which Ben Stiller's character repeatedly shouts the word "bomb" while being detained by airport security. The airplane was met by a bomb squad of the local sheriff's office as well as the FBI whose agents questioned the plane's 176 passengers about the note.
- ^"Carrey Has 'No Regrets' Over Meet The Parents". ContactMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- ^ abcKleinman, Geoffrey. Jay Roach – Director of Meet The Parents, DVDtalk. Accessed April 1, 2010.
- ^Wilmington, Michael. 'Meet the Parents' Finds Success by Marrying Classic Themes to Modern Tastes, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2000. Accessed March 30, 2010.
- ^ abcdeBower 2004, p. 99
- ^ abcdefBrook 2006, pp. 240, 241
- ^Bower 2004, pp. 97–99
- ^ abcdeSummers & Summers 2009, pp. 172, 173
- ^Brook 2006, p. 241
- ^O'Lynn & Tranbarger 2007, p. 6
- ^O'Lynn & Tranbarger 2007, p. 172
- ^O'Lynn & Tranbarger 2007, p. 257
- ^ abCherry 2005, p. 34
- ^ abcdThe Boys Who Met the ParentsArchived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine., Stumped. Accessed March 26, 2010.
- ^ abcShaffer, R.L. Meet the Parents: Bonus Edition (2000), dvdfuture.com. Accessed December 20, 2009.
- ^ abAdams, Sam. Meet the ParentsArchived 2010-10-23 at the Wayback Machine., Philadelphia City Paper. Accessed August 20, 2009.
- ^ abPress 2004, p. 170
- ^Ayscough, Suzan. Meet the Parents, Variety, August 13, 1992. Accessed May 28, 2008.
- ^ abWooten, Amy. Greg Glienna: Meet the Comic, Windy City Times, May 31, 2008. Accessed May 28, 2008.
- ^ abBrown, R. Chris. Emo Philips Talks with R. Chris Brown. Comedy Newswire, March 23, 2009. Accessed August 20, 2009.
- ^Howe, Desson. A High Mirth Rate, The Washington Post, October 6, 2000. Accessed February 3, 2010.
- ^Local Film Producer Brings America's #1 Film School To Detroit, Reuters, July 8, 2009. Accessed August 20, 2009.
- ^Elliot's Top Ten, raindance.co.uk. Accessed August 20, 2009.
- ^ abcdeTuran, Kenneth. Meet the Parents, Los Angeles Times, October 6, 2000. Accessed February 3, 2010.
- ^Kaufman 2002, p. 92
- ^ abcdefghijkJay Roach talks about his hit film Meet the Parents and spewing sewage on Robert De Niro, Barnes & Noble, March 5, 2001. Accessed October 9, 2008.
- ^ abcdGunn, Elston. Ten Questions with MEET THE PARENTS screenwriter Jim HerzfeldArchived 2009-07-31 at the Wayback Machine., screenwritersutopia.com, March 11, 2004. Accessed October 9, 2008.
- ^ abcdeMeet the Parents, Entertainment Weekly, August 11, 2000. Accessed February 3, 2010.
- ^ abcdefDaly, Steve. In-Laws & Disorder, Entertainment Weekly, October 13, 2000. Accessed February 3, 2010.
- ^ abInterview with Fran Drescher; Jim Carrey Discusses Movies, Comedy and Relationships, CNN, December 15, 2008. Accessed March 29, 2010.
- ^Carillo, Jenny. Stiller, Ben: Meet the Parents, Urban Cinefile, December 21, 2000. Accessed April 1, 2010.
- ^Cruz, Gilbert. Spotlight: Naomi Watts, Entertainment Weekly, December 8, 2006. Accessed February 3, 2010.
- ^Synnot, Siobhan. A Movie, Marriage and Baby...Mega Watts, Daily Record