Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman, paired at last in the hilarious “Meet the Fockers,” make the most of their screen time.

As the last scene of “Meet the Fockers” fades, supporting actors Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman are at the center of the screen. This is not an accident.

Streisand and Hoffman’s bawdy, uncensored performances as Roz and Bernie Focker, parents of Greg Focker (Ben Stiller), are the highlight of this formulaic but consistently funny film.

A sequel to “Meet the Parents,” in which screw-up Greg met his Protestantly perfect future in-laws (Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner), “Fockers” plays out like an episode of a good sitcom when it’s clicking.

We know these characters – they’re affectionate stereotypes, so we know them even if we didn’t see “Parents” – and it’s fun to see these pros take them in directions that confirm and subvert what we already know.

Most of the movie’s humor centers on the clash between De Niro’s uptight restraint and Hoffman’s freewheeling emotions. You know that famous ’60s photo of the hippie putting a daisy in a soldier’s gun? Think of these guys as being on opposite ends of that flower. I also counted eight jokes that riffed on the unfortunate Focker name, but I guess you could call “Fockers” restrained since it declines to refer to the Streisand character by pairing “mother” with her last name, maybe because director Jay Roach knows we’re already making that joke in our heads.

Roz Focker has her own brand of openness – she’s a sex therapist whose home is packed with more erotic art than the Playboy Mansion – and Streisand responds with a surprisingly relaxed performance.

Always a control diva in her own movies, she seems willing to do anything here, whether it’s talking about undescended testicles or, as Stiller says, “riding (De Niro) like Seabiscuit.”

These people are obviously having a lot of fun. And, while it’s not always the case that actors’ good times translate to our good times, in this case, they do.

Should you go? If it’s not as good as “Meet the Parents,” it’s pretty darn close.


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