Interpersonal Film- Meet the Fockers
I chose Meet the Fockers for my paper dealing with Interpersonal Communication.
Each character in this movie has their own distinct style of communication which ranges from complete openness to as secretive as you can get and even nonverbal that lead a great two hours of communication disaster but is still very relatable to. Although I chose a comedy I felt that this was a great story and displayed everything we have been studying. This film displays many different styles of communication between the characters and how they choose to interact with each other ultimately impacts their relationships.The story is second in the comedic series of Greg Focker and his soon to be wife Pam Byrnes. Greg is from a Jewish family where his father had chosen to give up a successful law career to be a stay at home dad, and his mother is a sex therapist for the elderly who is very open and comfortable with discussing the topic of sex with everyone.
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Pam comes from a Catholic and much more tradition family with a stay at home mother and a father who has recently retired from the CIA, but with a cover story of being a florist. Jack Byrnes is the perfect example of an uptight, hard to impress, “my way or the highway” upper middle-class man.
Pam’s father Jack has already run Greg through the ringer trying to impress him and now it’s time for the family’s to meet before the wedding. Greg want his parents Roz and Bernie to basically tone down their eccentric ways to satisfy Jack’s very uptight standards which they go along with for a while but eventually find much too difficult and just don’t understand the point of having to do so. The story becomes more complicated when Jack’s secretive CIA ways of non-communication and cover-ups are added in because he believes Greg has a 15 year old son with the family maid that he is trying to hide.Also Pam has told Greg she is pregnant and doesn’t want her father to find out about. The story has a variety of interpersonal relationships between Greg, Pam, Jack and his wife Dina, LJ “little Jack” their grandson by another daughter, and Roz and Bernie. By the end everyone’s truth come out and all the deception, cover-ups and lying are revealed. When communication is opened up and truth is finally told the characters not only understand each other better but they improve their relationships.
Meet the Fockers is a wonderful example of how difficult is to communicate with honesty of who you really are as a person and what your morals and eliefs are. In our society today we seem to be more focused on giving others an impression of who we think they want us to be and not on whom we want ourselves to be. This movie is a great definition of this in that the main character spends all his time and focus on trying to keep his future father-in-law happy at the expense of letting himself and his family be who thy truly are. It also speaks to the lack of open and honest lines of communication between family members. The main character, Greg Focker, has a career as a male nurse and loves his job but felt that it was not good enough to win the approval of his girlfriend Pam’s father.In the first film he told many lies and omitted information about his family to Jack that will come back to haunt him, such as the fact that his father’s law career has been over since he was a child and he was the one at home taking care of his son and the ever famous milking of his nonexistent sisters cats nipples. Very ironically Jack has what he calls a “circle of trust” with his family, which now includes Greg, but neither of the men seems to follow their own rule of abiding to this.
When Greg’s parents Roz and Bernie Focker tell the story of how Greg lost his virginity at age fifteen to their housekeeper Isabel Villalobos, who has a son about the age that might make him Greg’s and looks almost identical to him, Jack goes on a secret mission to find out the truth. He believes Jorge is his son and Greg has been lying to Pam and the Byrnes so instead of exhibiting open honest communication by asking he uses his CIA contacts to secretly do a DNA test to prove he is right and out his lie.He goes as far as to invite Jorge to Pam and Greg’s engagement party where he gets hair samples from both as DNA samples and drugs him with “truth serum” in an attempt to elicit honesty. This of course backfires on him and instead of getting what he was after Greg announces that he thinks Dina is hot and, of by the way, Pam is pregnant. Later we find out that Jorge knows who his father is, he is a baseball player, and if Jack had just asked he could have found this out without all the secrecy. Also Pam’s pregnancy comes as a shock to Jack but a bigger surprise is that everyone else already knew and chose to hide it from him.This is where some nonverbal communication has taken place.
Roz figured out the secret because Pam had been turning down alcohol, not playing a game of family football and the “pregnancy glow”. She had been observant to the silent but very obviousness of how someone can communicate without saying a word, which can commonly be overlooked in communication by ones distractions, focus on other thoughts as well as. Another great example of how nonverbal communication can be used is given as relationship advice by sex therapist Roz to Dina.She notices how uptight Jack is and that their relationship lacks the intimacy of her and Bernie’s so she has a talk with Dina about how to dress sexy, kiss him on the ear and generally get his attention through actions and not words. Of course when she tries these tips Jack is so enveloped in his own thoughts he doesn’t notice that his wife is trying to get his attention and be romantic with him. While the Byrnes’ seem to be a much more stereotypical American family in that of not being able to openly communicate their feelings, desires and questions with each other the Fockers are the complete opposite.Roz has no trouble saying whatever is on her mind and talking openly about it.
We see the best example of this in the scene where the women are out shopping with Pam and she asks Dina about her sex life with Jack and if she is being satisfied. While women are much more emotionally open with each other than men in our culture this still throws Dina off but the women ultimately discuss the issue openly. This scene is a very relatable one for me as a woman and I felt it displayed a great example of self-disclosure.Roz is a bit too open about sex but she is effective at getting Dina to open up about it. When you can make another person, especially one you don’t know well, to feel comfortable enough to tell you intimate details about themselves I feel that is a good validation of your character and creates a solid foundation in a relationship. Another clear distinction of cultural norms is when Bernie shows off the “wall of Gaylord’s (Greg) accomplishments” to everyone. He is so loving and proud of his son that he has saved every useless piece of memorabilia and even a tenth place award.
Greg is embarrassed by his father’s open display of love and Jack laughs at how he could possibly be proud of getting an award that has no real meaning, not being a first place or even second for that matter. We also see stereotyping of cultural norms with LJ’s baby learning cards. Jack has been teaching his grandson words and meanings with flash cards that have a picture and corresponding word on the other side. When the nurse card is shown it is a female nurse picture and Jack laughs because Greg is a male nurse which to him is not a cultural norm.Even though our society is changing and people are becoming more open minded we still revert to how we believe things “should be”. Men are still uncomfortable taking jobs they feel are traditionally meant for women and taking on “female roles”, like being stay at home dads. Men who earn less than their wives tend to feel emasculated and even my fiancee has said that he would like to be a stay at home dad if I made more money than he did, but he would be embarrassed by what others would say or think about this.
I feel that I have a tendency to be a bit like Greg Fockers character in that I omit certain bits of information I feel would be looked on unfavorably by others. I don’t find myself doing this as much to impress others but to not explain myself, actions, beliefs or shortcomings to them. For example, I have previously attended college but did not graduate and ended up working as a bartender for years before finally deciding to complete my degree. I feel looked down on by some and sort of embarrassed of myself for choosing to not finish and take a job in the service industry.I have found over the years that many people look at service workers with a lack of respect, as uneducated and unable to acquire a higher position in life. I try not to be bothered by how others see me and only worry about how I see myself but on occasion it doesn’t feel good to my self-worth or self-concept to be looked down on. And it is hard to be proud of yourself when you feel like you’ve given up and taken the easy way out.
So I have spent countless years avoiding questions about having a degree or graduating college.This has limited me in conversations with people as I avoid topics and disclosing much personal information about myself and my past. I mean who really wants to admit to strangers that they were lazy and spent too much time socializing to take their education seriously enough to accomplish being a seemingly higher stature in life. We are a society of judgmental people, with ourselves as well as others, and no matter how much we might not agree with the rightness of this it still affects us emotionally.I would not have gone to the extreme lengths Greg and Jack go to avoid being judged or to find out information about someone. I feel that being honest in a situation, such as knowing if a child is theirs or the real career of my parents, is not worth going through the effort that they do. I love this film not only because of how funny it is but because it is relatable on a personal level.
We can all related to being embarrassed by parents, telling lies to impress others and hiding secrets from family members. I actually chose this movie when I did a Google search for films that display good examples of communication.I would highly recommend it to others for the comedic aspect and that it really does show many examples of communication. Meet the Fockers uses verbal as well as nonverbal elements for characters to interact with each other and does so with success. I found it not only entertaining but informative and much more relatable than I had figured it would be to the course work. I found that I could see aspects of my own interactions similar and vastly different than those of the characters and very easily pulling perfect examples to the questions asked.