Friday, August 14, 2020

The Heartbreak Kid Review


The Farrelly brothers, Peter and Bobby, make comedies. Some of them, like "Dumb & Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary," are funny. Some of them, like "Kingpin" and "Fever Pitch," are only so-so; and others, like "Osmosis Jones" and "Shallow Hal," are outright duds. Count 2007's "The Heartbreak Kid" among the duds. Well, at least the movie is a dud; the video quality of this Blu-ray edition is outstanding. Small compensation.

The Farrellys have always had a playful mean streak in them, and they have often worked physical or mental disabilities into their films: stupid people, obese people, mentally challenged people, one-handed people, sick people. But in their adaptation of the 1972 Neil Simon-Elaine May movie of the same title, they seem just plain malicious.

Let me give you the setup first. Ben Stiller plays a forty-year-old confirmed bachelor, Eddie Cantrow. He owns a sporting goods store in San Francisco, and he seems content. However, no one around him is content about his being unattached, including his father (played by Ben Stiller's real-life father, Jerry Stiller). When Eddie goes to his ex-fiancee's wedding, practically everybody there ridicules him for still being single.

Then he meets a pretty blonde, Lila (Malin Akerman), who sweeps him off his feet. After a whirlwind courtship, he marries her, and on their honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, the trouble starts. Eddie realizes too late that he doesn't really know her. Among other things, she talks and sings constantly, she won't shut up, she's a lot more aggressive than he realized, and she has any number of distasteful secrets that he just now finds out. She is, in fact, pretty obnoxious, and he begins to have his doubts about having married her.

That's when he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a young woman visiting Cabo with her family, and he falls in love with her. So, that's the premise: What do you do when on your honeymoon you realize you've made a huge mistake in marrying the wrong person and simultaneously find the real girl of your dreams?

What seemed humorous and daring thirty-odd years ago in Neil Simon's screenplay seems merely cruel in the Farrellys' rewritten account. What we get here is a new wife who's an idiot and a new husband who's a cad, a liar, and an idiot.

The Farrellys' fill "The Heartbreak Kid" with crude language, crude jokes, and crude sex, little of which is even faintly amusing. The gags are often of the slapstick variety, especially the ones that portray Lila as a klutz. OK, I did find myself giggling briefly at one salacious scene where Eddie's dad is in a hot tub in Vegas with a woman of prodigious breast size. But the rest of the film is almost painfully unfunny.

The misunderstandings that follow the film's setup are sometimes genuinely unbearable to watch, and the movie only gets worse as it goes along. I found it largely gross, mean-spirited, frustrating, and ugly.