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De Niro as a father

De Niro as a father — In ”Meet the Parents,” the ”Taxi Driver” star is a boyfriend?s worst nightmare

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After lamely sending up his signature Taxi Driver line (”You talkin’ to me?”) in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, De Niro left self-parody behind and entered comedy Valhalla with Meet the Parents. Of course, he’s tickled funny bones before, most notably in Analyze This. But De Niro was more than merely funny as an ex-CIA operative who interrogates his daughter’s boyfriends like criminals. He was also scary, exasperating, and entirely believable. His main comedic tool: an arsenal of gimlet-eyed, sourpuss expressions, displayed while grilling Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) over such domestic crises as a smashed cremation urn and a missing feline. While Stiller’s character prattled on about how he once milked a cat, De Niro milked every ounce of comedy from stunned reaction shots and acid retorts. And all he had to do was narrow his eyes to get laughs in a stop-and-go suburban drag race. As Jake LaMotta used to say, Dat’s entuhtainment!