THE HEARTBREAK KID (2007)
Directors: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Cast: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman, Jerry Stiller, Carlos Mencia, Rob Corddry
MPAA Rating: (for strong sexual content, crude humor and language)
Running Time: 1:55
Release Date: 10/5/07
Review by Mark Dujsik
Peter and Bobby Farrelly hit their stride in the mid-to-late '90s with the one-two punch of Kingpin and There's Something About Mary, and that's really about it. They became the go-to guys for ribald, classless, and gross comedy, but since then, they've been out-done by so many other envelope-pushing comedies that their newest movie The Heartbreak Kid feels old hat. The Farrelly brothers seem to have run out of ideas for their big gags; in the third act, you can sense them straining to bring out the big guns while only packing a pellet gun. That's not to say the movie isn't funny. There's some of the better raunchy, gag-less comedy material they've done in the opening and middle acts, but there's a point when the script becomes bogged down by a completely convoluted, typically romantic-comedy misunderstanding. Instead of having a hopeless schmuck caught in inappropriate situations, the script by the Farrellys, Scott Armstrong, Leslie Dixon, and Kevin Barnett (a remake of the 1972 film of the same title based on a short story by Bruce Jay Friedman) decides to turn the schmuck into the reason for the inappropriate situations, and the strain of accepting the whole thing gets considerably tougher.
Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) is a lifelong bachelor. The closest he's ever gotten to marriage is an engagement to a woman he dated for five years, but he broke it off, in part because she didn't like Caddyshack because the gopher looks fake. His father Doc (Jerry Stiller) is worried about him, not necessarily because he's not married but because he's not getting any action (Doc has a lewder phrase for it). Eddie attends ex-fiancée's wedding, and his married buddy Mac (a consistently funny Rob Corddry in a clichéd role) tries to convince him of the joys of marriage and points him out when the bride and her father make jokes at his expense. Soon after, he's walking down the street, watching the happy couples dining together, when he witnesses a man stealing a woman's purse. He tries to stop the mugger and gets a face full of perfume as reward. The woman is Lila (Malin Akerman), and Eddie can't bring himself to ask her out, an inaction upon which Doc and Mac harp. Lila shows up at Eddie's sporting goods store, though, and he takes her out. Their relationship progresses (in a make-out montage), and when she is called away out of country for her job, he finally takes the plunge.
Lila seems sweet and innocent, but once the happy couple is on their way to Cabo for a three-week honeymoon, things change pretty quickly. Lila likes singing along to songs in the car—any song, with as much feeling as is inhumanly possible. She gets seasick, so Eddie's fishing plans are out. So are his dreams to ride a burro through Mexico, because she thinks it's dangerous. Even though she wanted to save sex for later in their relationship, she turns out to be a wildebeest in the sack and doesn't know the definition of "missionary position." She spots an old couple at a diner (she has to hold hands while eating) and says that will be her and Eddie in ten years, so math isn't her strong suit. And that deviated septum? Cocaine. All of this is piled on so quickly, it's no wonder Eddie begins to have doubts about his marriage before their first fight. The material here is genuinely funny in a nightmarish sort of way, and it's only the beginning of the discoveries Eddie makes on his honeymoon. The comedy works in this section, and Ben Stiller and Malin Akerman play the sap and the nut-job without overdoing it.
The movie starts to wobble with the introduction of Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), who's at the resort to celebrate her aunt and uncle's anniversary with her family. Miranda is everything Eddie thinks he wants in a woman, and he does a fine job of avoiding telling her that he happens to be on his honeymoon. Eddie goes from likeable dope to pathological liar, and the script sets in motion a chain of misunderstandings to accompany his lies so that, at one point, Miranda and her family are convinced Eddie is a widower, his wife murdered by an ice pick-wielding maniac. It's too much convenience and too many hateful traits tacked on to Eddie for any of it to work. Topping the whole extreme mix-up is a pileup of recurring and set-up jokes in an elaborate but energy-less climax that involves a mariachi band, a hot pepper in the nose, a chunk of meat out a different nose, a fall into the ocean, a jellyfish, and the only known comic remedy for its sting. That the movie doesn't end there is a further fault, and soon Eddie is involved with illegal immigrants and turns into a legitimate nutcase himself.It's almost enough to make one forget how promising The Heartbreak Kid started but ultimately only serves as disappointment for the promise wasted on the obvious and occasionally disturbing. When the final scene comes with repeating caddish behavior from Eddie, we don't know whether to laugh or slap our foreheads. Or maybe him.
Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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