The Heartbreak Kid **
DIrected by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Written by Scot Armstrong and Leslie Dixon, Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly, and Kevin Barnett-based on the 1972 screenplay by Neil Simon
Ben Stiller as Eddie Cantrow
Michelle Monaghan as Miranda
Jerry Stiller as Doc
Malin Akerman as Lila
Carlos Mencia as Uncle Tito
Rob Corddry as Mac
115 Minutes(Rated R for strong sexual content, crude humor and language. )
On the heels of last months awful dirty comedy "Good Luck Chuck," comes the slightly better, but still pretty awful, "The Heartbreak Kid." This is the return of the Farrelly Brothers in their "original crude form," after some PG-13 outings like "Fever Pitch," "Stuck on You," and "Shallow Hal-" but at least those films managed to have laughs and heart mixed instead of throwing forced dirty jokes at us just to make sure that the film had an R rating. And by getting Ben Stiller to be in the film, they are clearly trying to get some "There's Something About Mary" glory back, but the difference is, "There's Something About Mary" actually earns its dirty and crude jokes, and they fit in an oddly natural way. It isn't a complete waste of time, and I did laugh every now and then, but on the whole-it stinks.
Ben Stiller stars in this remake of a 1972 film, as Eddie Cantrow, a down on his luck sports store owner, who watches as his ex-fiancee gets married to another man. He ends up meeting Lila, played by the unknown Malin Akerman who will probably end up staying that way-she kind of looks like a cross between Cameron Diaz and Julia Stiles, after she gets mugged on the street, and the two of them jump into a relationship. When Lila's work ends up forcing her to move to Germany, Eddie quickly marries her because her work would not force a married woman to move. Eddie seems content, until on the way to their honeymoon in Mexico a flip is switched and Lila becomes a living nightmare. Singing along to every single song on the radio, having odd bedroom fetishes, and not even having any form of income (her job is volunteer) throws Eddie over the edge, especially with her reminding him that they will be spending the next forty to fifty years together. And then, on the Mexican beach, Eddie ends up meeting Miranda, and her loving family (except for maybe her cautious cousin Martin) who come to Mexico every year for her aunt and uncle to renew their vows. And Eddie and her begin to hit it off, and when he finds himself falling in love with her, he has to make sure that Lila never catches on to his plots.
I kind of don't know where to start in what was wrong with this film, before I move onto the few things that were right. For one thing, Ben Stiller is getting old. Complete with wrinkles and a head fill of gray hairs, he just did not seem like he fit the part at all, especially since both Lila and Miranda are rather young women. His efforts to gain Miranda in the last half seem less romantic than they do creepy. He has had funny moments in the past-"Zoolander" is a laugh riot from beginning to end, but its a negative thing when I say that Carlos Mencia has more laughs in his lines than Stiller. I have always been impressed with the way the Farrelly Brothers manage to incorporate a rather sweet drama to their films-the last three especially, and even "Mary" to some extent. Here there is no sweet side to it, because all of the characters just simply seem like complete plot devices. Everything is so paint by numbers-even Miranda's family-sweet and good natured except for that one guy who knows the whole thing seems fishy. Akerman, who plays Lila, is pretty bad from the get go, never even allowing the audience to see a sweet side to her, the one that Stiller falls for, because she barely gets any screen time. The two saving graces acting wise, somewhat, were Rob Corddry as the best friend-he was quite funny in 'The Ten" and what he does is good here too, and Michelle Monaghan as Miranda, who I have been silently watching rise up since "It Runs in the Family" back in 2003.
Lastly, the crude humor here is there-in almost every scene-but it all seems completely forced and even tacked on. For one thing, there is Jerry Stiller as Stiller's father (big acting job, there!) who of course has his foul mouth with him in every scene. A scene towards the end involving a jellyfish goes over the top, which is fine, only this was clearly an attempt to reach levels of crude humor that "Mary" reached, with an incident happening, people screaming all around, the situation getting worse. I'm thinking about the zipper scene in the latter film, only once again, that was actually funny. The movie isn't a total loss-there are a couple of actual laughs throughout the two hours, mostly during the beginning, and a rather funny montage of Stiller trying to escape from Mexico after Lila burns his passport and wallet, but they are few and far between. There is just nothing to care about in this film-not a single character because they are all cardboard cutouts, and not a single one of the relationships because they are all plot devices.