Dir: Jay Roach. US. 2000.

Prod cos: Nancy Tenenbaum Films, Tribeca Productions. US dist: Universal Pictures. Int'l dist: DreamWorks/UIP. Prods: Nancy Tenenbaum, Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, Jay Roach. Scr: Jim Herzfeld, John Hamburg from a story by Greg Glienna & Mary Ruth Clarke. DoP: Peter James. Prod des: Rusty Smith. Ed: Jon Poll. Mus: Randy Newman. Main cast: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, James Rebhorn, Jon Abrahams, Owen Wilson.

Critics have been raving and preview shows selling out of Universal/DreamWorks' co-production Meet The Parents which opens domestically next weekend. Furthermore, star-producer Robert De Niro has never been more visible publicising a film, and that includes presenting one of the MTV Music Video Awards last month. All bodes well for a big opening and a healthy domestic run.

And while it's no masterpiece, Meet The Parents certainly builds a comic premise and keeps it alive and funny from start to finish - a claim that can hardly be made for the rash of grossout comedies unleashed by Hollywood throughout the summer (The Klumps, Me Myself & Irene et al). Dominated not by De Niro but by the ever appealing Ben Stiller, its US success should be duplicated overseas where audiences can relate to the universal dilemma on show.

Along the same lines as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Father Of The Bride, the film is mostly set in one house preparing for a celebration. Ben Stiller plays a male nurse from Chicago brought by girlfriend Teri Polo to her parents' house in the country for the weekend. The occasion is her sister's wedding.

But Stiller was not expecting the scrutiny and suspicions of her hostile father (De Niro) and becomes so intimidated that he starts putting his foot wrong, nearly wrecking the house, losing the beloved cat, wiping out the wedding and alienating his girlfriend.

Wide audiences will lap up the comedy of errors - directed by Jay Roach with the same broad strokes as the two Austin Powers films - and respond to Stiller's winning comic performance, an extension of his smart but hapless persona from There's Something About Mary. And who better to play a scary father-in-law than Robert De Niro'