The Heartbreak Kid

Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something about Mary are consistently voted as two of the funniest comedies ever. Both films boast a high quota of laugh out loud gags as well as providing excellent late night repeat viewing. The Farrelly Brothers' latest effort, however, is arguably one of the worst films of the year so far, neither funny nor clever it is so stupendously bad that you might want to re-evaluate those earlier classics and put them down as flukes rather than the comedies that we thought they were...

Eddie is a successful but lonely business man surrounded by happy couples. By chance he meets the ‘perfect woman’ and following a whirlwind romance he marries Lila and they go off on Honeymoon. However he quickly realizes that he has made a huge mistake, and when he falls for Miranda a fellow holiday maker at their resort, Eddie sets about breaking up his own marriage. The films central concept is badly flawed as it demands our sympathies to be with Stiller’s wimpish character rather than the ‘nightmare bride’. Problem is, she just isn’t that bad… she’s attractive, smart, funny and above all loyal. Whereas her husband, whom we are supposed to empathize with, is keen to jump into bed with the first woman he meets on the couples honeymoon. The fact is that Lila doesn’t do anything wrong (or maybe I’m missing something here?), she gets sunburnt on the beach, hides away in the apartment (encouraged by Eddie who is busy chasing someone else) and gets assaulted by the hotel concierge, again under indirect orders from Eddie.

The chances of a guy like Eddie ‘pulling’ one good looking girl are pretty far-fetched but the chances of him getting familiar with three of them as the film expects us to believe are beyond the realms of possibility even in a Farrelly brothers world. Okay so ‘Dumb and Dumber’ was essentially a road movie about two idiots transporting a suitcase to its rightful owner, and ‘Something about…’ was just about Mary and her numerous suitors but both films never relied on these concepts for the humor. They created clever scenarios, or even not-so clever ones to showcase sight-gags and wordplay. ‘Heartbreak kid has TWO moments of genuine humour, one at the start and one trademark ‘shock’ scene at the end, neither as good as the scenes we’ve seen in previous films and sadly book ending a very poor 2 hours in between.

Stiller has become stale and predictable as a performer; he looks about 10 years too old to pull off this role. The support are fine, but are never really given any room to play, and Malin Akerman’s Lila (the most interesting thing in the film) is criminally sidelined just when the film desperately needs more from here. Heartbreak Kid is a one joke film, unfortunately the joke isn’t funny… and worst of all its boring.

SECOND OPINION | Neil Davey **
The rise of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen et al must have former kings of comedy the Farrelly Brothers looking over their shoulders. How else to explain this strangely nervy, unsatisfactory affair? A remake of Neil Simon’s 1970s "classic" — relax, we’d never heard of it either — it’s a strange tale of a man who, having married in haste, gets to repent in haste as well. Eddie Cantrow (Stiller) is the man in question, a 40-something bachelor who tries to convince himself and his best friend Mac (Corddry) and father (Stiller) that he’s happy being single but they all know the truth. Then Eddie runs into Lila (Akerman) and they begin a speedy romance. She’s beautiful and interesting, declares Mac, so what are you waiting for? With no satisfactory answer, Eddie proposes. They marry… and then Lila reveals her "real" nature. She’s beautiful but swears like a trooper. She apparently knows the lyrics to every song ever written. She’s got the sexual appetite of a porn star. She’s had dodgy boyfriends. The great job is actually just a volunteer position...

So, when Eddie meets Miranda (Monaghan), a sweet, laid-back family girl, she seems a much better fir for his middle-of-the-road existence. She’s everything he ever wanted. Aside, probably, from the fact that she’s a guest at the hotel where he’s on his honeymoon. On the surface, it’s a moderate premise. What do you do when you meet the person of your dreams just after you’ve got married? However, the execution means that, despite Stiller’s amiable charms and comic abilities, Eddie appears to be a complete prick. Oh boo hoo. You’ve married a beautiful, lively woman who has a couple of foibles you don’t like. Grow some balls. With that gaping hole of prickdom at the centre, any good things here — which generally come from Akerman’s shameless performance — are the comic equivalent of polishing brass on the Titanic. Stiller is amusing and can phone this sort of thing in (there are times you may feel he has). Monagahan is, as ever, thoroughly adorable, and there’s good support from various quarters. But to what purpose? Yes, there are some big laughs and, predictably, these come from the Farrelly cupboard of grossness rather than the Simon-influenced repartee. But it’s all in vain. Even though the course of true love, option two, doesn’t run smooth, you’ll still feel that Eddie’s got away with things too lightly. The result is a deeply cynical, strangely uncomfortable experience.

Official Site
The Heartbreak Kid at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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