The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.

Release Date: October 5th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: The Farrelly Brothers Actors: Ben Stiller, Malin Akerman, Michelle Monaghan, Jerry Stiller, Rob Corddry, Carlos Mencia, Danny McBride, Scott Wilson, Polly Holliday

 


 

77

-year-old Doc (Jerry Stiller) regularly badgers his son Eddie (Ben Stiller) about the 40-year-old man’s sex life, concerned that he isn’t getting over a series of break-ups. In fact, Eddie is planning to attend the Valentine’s Day wedding of his ex-girlfriend, Jodi (Ali Hillis), much to his father’s chagrin. Plus, Eddie’s grievances about Jodi were trivial, such as when she complained that the gopher in “Caddyshack” looked fake. Eddie’s good friend, the henpecked Mac (Rob Corddry), doesn’t help matters at the event, teasing him incessantly, all while the poor man gets embarrassingly seated amongst children (the singles table).

On the way home, walking not too far from the sporting goods store he owns in San Francisco, Eddie runs into Lila (Malin Akerman) as she’s being mugged by a man on a bicycle. Although he fails to thwart the robbery (and gets pepper-sprayed for his efforts), he breaks the ice a bit, which allows him to woo the young woman when she visits his store specifically to see him. “There’s no way in hell she’s single,” he muses, but the sexy blonde environmental researcher is soon in a constant lip-lock with Eddie, smooching even when they wait in the hospital to look into a possible cycling injury. And marriage is just around the corner.

The six-week romance is fast-moving and dotted with slapstick, along with plenty of conversational dialogue that covers a wide range of pop culture – and brazenly crass – topics. Eddie is awkward around women in general, and far too critical, but his communications with Lila are nicely exaggerated for comedic effect. Amusingly, their exchanges possess a funnily candid quality too, with Stiller playing to his strengths as a timid, regretful sort of underdog. He’s also sympathetic, particularly as his mistakes are made to feel reasonable as opposed to rash. This is a stark contrast to the original film from 1972, which dove right into the marriage, skipping past details in the courting process, and illustrated the protagonist to be a pronounced jerk.

“Get on with your life!” After the wedding, it’s immediately apparent that neither partner collected enough information to make an informed decision on spending the next 40 – 50 years together. Their incompatibilities, exposed on their honeymoon in Cabo, range from differing levels of excitability, drug use, questionable income, sexual adventurousness, and even snoring. Hysterically, the dreamy blonde harbors all the dark secrets – or one-sided, concealed truths; Eddie just isn’t prepared for someone with such an opposing viewpoint on nearly everything. And so, after Lila is holed up in the hotel with a severe sunburn, Eddie meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) – a girl who is much more on his wavelength.

Based on the Neil Simon screenplay (itself adapted from the Bruce Jay Friedman story “A Change of Plan”), the basic premise is thoroughly entertaining. The Farrelly Brothers’ twist is to add graphic nudity, habitual expletives, and an update to the believability of it all, which formerly required more of a suspension of disbelief. But the periodic boorishness tends to detract from the levity, which needs to be consistent to offset the severity of Eddie’s marital conundrum and the ensuing lies used to stave off an extremely uncomfortable confrontation.

Meanwhile, montages are used well, but comic relief supporting players stretch out the running time with unnecessary repetition (including recurring sight gags that don’t quite stick). Had the film cut out half of the background characters – from Carlos Mencia to Danny McBride – the pacing would have been far better and the laughs more frequent. It carries on for so long that the bulk of the story changes (what was once a humorous cautionary tale about jumping into marriage transforms into an overly complicated series of attempts at winning back a lost flame), going off on a ludicrous tangent – involving remorse and immigration – until a majority of the humor becomes entirely forgotten. Nevertheless, the closing shot is quite effective.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10