This is the only film in the series in which Pam's sister, Deborah Byrnes, appears onscreen, though she is frequently mentioned in all of the films. Nicole DeHuff, the actress who played her, died in 2005.
According to the DVD commentary, the car chase scene was originally meant to be a spoof of Ronin (1998). When the filmmakers got to the location, they saw how quickly the lights changed, realized it would be a funnier joke, and rewrote the scene (the lights really did change from green to red as fast as they are shown in the movie).
When Jack first questions Greg about the circle of trust, he says that nineteen months in a Vietnamese prison made him a patient man. This is a reference to The Deer Hunter (1978), where Robert De Niro's character spends time in a Vietnamese POW (prisoner of war) prison.
Pam calls Gaylord's parents in Detroit, Michigan. However, in the sequel, they live in Florida. When the Byrnes first arrive to the Fockers' home in the sequel, Greg's dad states that they moved from Detroit.
The scenes at the "Surf and Turf" restaurant were filmed at a Port Washington, NY restaurant called "Louie's." The car racing scenes between Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro were also filmed in downtown Port Washington. Also, the scene where Stiller and De Niro go shopping is in Port Washington at Salem Drugs.
The idea to use a lie detector test came from Robert De Niro while he was researching a role. He read up on polygraphs and presented his findings to director Jay Roach at a pre-shoot dinner. "At that point, there was no lie detector scene in the script," Roach told Entertainment Weekly. "But after hearing all this, I thought, 'Oh, this has to be in our movie.' Now it's become the central image of all the ads, the trailers, everything." Jack Byrnes being ex-CIA was always part of his characters since the beginning, however.
On July 18, 2005, a regularly scheduled American Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to San Juan, Puerto Rico was diverted back to Fort Lauderdale forty minutes into the flight, after a flight attendant found a crumpled napkin that read "Bomb, bomb, bomb...meet the parents." 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.
Director Jay Roach was terrified to direct Meet the Parents (2000) and was nervous about attempting to sell the project to both Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller. Stiller thought Roach was only pretending to be nervous. Roach swears he was not. "I don't think it was strategy," Roach told Entertainment Weekly. "I wanted them to know I was terrified. I'm really bad at faking."
When Ben Stiller came on board, the script was retooled. Originally, it had been written for Jim Carrey so it contained more physical, knockabout comedy. Stiller's style is less physical so this element in the script was rewritten.
Meet the Parents (2000) is actually a remake of a 1992 Independent film of the same name. The 75 minute short film starred Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke, who also wrote the script. Glienna also directed on the film on a budget of about $100,000. Unable to find a distributor for their film, the filmmakers eventually sold the rights to Universal Studios.
The of original opening of Meet the Parents (2000) was too expensive to film. It featured Greg proposing to Pam during a Cubs game at Wrigley Field-and failing spectacularly. To save money (the film had a $55 million budget), they had Greg's failed proposal take place outside of a school instead.
Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor did an uncredited rewrite of the screenplay. The poem that Robert De Niro reads about his deceased mother was one of their contributions as was the climactic airport sequence.
Robert De Niro originally wanted to train the cat himself but then realized that would take up to about 6 months of his life. Instead, he would carry kibble in all his pockets which helped him enjoy a very co-operative relationship with the animal.
In the first dinner scene when Jack asks Greg to say grace and Pam tells him that Greg is Jewish, Greg says, "It's not like I'm a rabbi." In that same year, Ben Stiller played a rabbi in the film Keping the Faith (2000).
In an early scene, Greg (Ben Stiller) and Jack (Robert De Niro) share differing opinions about the theme of the song "Puff the Magic Dragon." In the film's concluding scene, when Jack is watching Greg on his surveillance tapes, "Puff the Magic Dragon" is playing softly in the background.