The Heartbreak Kid (2007) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for strong sexual content, crude humor, and language
Running time: 115 min.
Cast: Ben Stiller, Malin Akerman, Michelle Monaghan, Jerry Stiller, Carlos Mencia, Rob Corddry, Stephen Courtney, Ali Hallis
Cameo: Leslie Easterbrook
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Screenplay: Scot Armstrong, Leslie Dixon, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett (based on the short story, "A Change of Plan" and the Neil Simon play)
Review published October 13, 2007
Eddie Cantrow (Stiller, Night at the Museum) is a single San Francisco owner of a sporting goods store who makes fast friends with Lila (Akerman, The Brothers Solomon), a woman he tries to help when her purse is snatched. Lila happens to be a real knockout, and everything a guy could want -- that is, until the day Eddie and Lila get married. after only a couple of months. That's when she becomes the most annoying girl on the planet, singing to every song that comes on the radio incessantly, up to her eyeballs in debt, and with a dark, twisted manner of sexual intercourse. It becomes abundantly clear after only a couple of days into their honeymoon that the marriage is going to be pure hell. Enter Miranda (Monaghan, MI3), a lovely woman vacationing in the same area that Eddie is. The two meet and hit it off, although she doesn't know he is married, and he isn't chomping at the bit to tell her. After only a couple of days hanging out with Miranda, Eddie begins to question his own marriage, but has a hard time juggling the two women without making an utter ass out of everyone.
In essence, The Heartbreak Kid merely takes the 1972 classic Neil Simon comedy and makes it cruder and dumber for today's less demanding, less attentive audience. Envelope pushing gags (lots of raunchy dialogue, a donkey show, and there is a scene of one character peeing on the other) abound, in the first R-rated comedy from the Farrelly Brothers (Fever Pitch, Stuck on You) since Me Myself and Irene. To their fans, I will expect that some will consider it a return to form. To others, it will be merely evidence that their brand of comedy has come and gone, no longer able to startle us with their overly gross humor without making us just a little queasy at how low they are willing to go. It might be funny on occasion, but it is far from inspired. More like tired, as Ben Stiller plays what he always seems to play as the romantic lead, except in this case, without any sympathy whatsoever.
The female actresses are appealing, with Akerman making a very uncanny, but dead-on turn as the replacement for Cameron Diaz. She's funny and willing to do practically anything to get the big laughs. Monaghan impresses in a straight girl-next-door role, which contrasts the other extreme well. The problem here is that Eddie's character pretty much deserves everything coming to him for being stupid, intolerant, and a lying twit. There's not a moment in the film where we can relate to his plight, because everything he does is something only a complete ignoramus would do. He never finds out anything about his soon-to-be wife before marrying her, then basically commits the same grievous error with another woman in a mere fraction of the time of his previously rushed marriage. By the time he gets into hot pursuit, he has already crossed the line into creepy stalker mode, which loses all chance of a happy ending, even if he were to end up with the girl he really wants.
The Heartbreak Kid isn't good, but I suppose it succeeds in keeping one entertained enough sporadically to not be too off put by the fact that both the Farrelly Brothers and Stiller have done this all before and done it much better. Certainly, those who cherish the Charles Grodin/Cybill Shepard original will be mortified at what they've done to a beloved comedy favorite. The Farrelly comedies had their time and place in the late 1990s, in an era where R-rated comedies were becoming scarce enough that something truly raunchy was actually funny. Now in the era of very incisive raunchy comedies like Borat and Superbad, just injecting gross moments into a movie doesn't cut it anymore. We need characters we like put into situations that are at least halfway borne from truthful reflection. What we get from the Farrellys is the same one-note characters forced into embarrassing slapstick for easy and cheesy laughs. Just when it seems like they matured out of their crutch of nonstop raunchiness, they think what we want is to see them be impish little kids again. That would be fine, if not for the fact that we've also grown out of that stage along with them.
©2007 Vince Leo