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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

THE HEARTBREAK KID (2007) - Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

Okay, look. I’ve enjoyed some of the Farrelly Brothers films before. Although with this, and Kingpin, you probably wouldn’t think so. I’ve enjoyed a few of Ben Stiller’s films. And when the two (or should that be three) came together in the past, the Farrellys and Stiller made a great film in There’s Something About Mary. So the collaborators must have hoped that lightning would strike twice when they made The Heartbreak Kid.

Stiller again plays the put-upon guy who’s a victim of circumstance and the crazy people who surround him. He’s a little bit crazy, but it takes someone even crazier to bring it out of him. Stiller plays Eddie Cantrow, a terminally single man, with no hopes of getting married. He (inexplicably) goes to his ex girlfriend’s wedding and realises he must do something if he doesn’t want to end up single for the rest of his life. Fate intervenes when Cantrow helps a girl, Lila, who’s just been mugged. Lila seems like the perfect catch. Smart, funny, caring and very attractive. She gets offered a job abroad. To avoid losing this perfect girl, Cantrow proposes. The couple get married and head off on their honeymoon. But Lila’s personality quickly changes and she proves to be a bit of a handful. Cantrow then meets Miranda, and realises SHE is the perfect woman. And so he begins a relationship with her, while trying to avoid his psychotic new wife.

The Farrelly brothers movies have evolved quite a bit since the balls to the wall craziness of Dumb And Dumber. With There’s Something About Mary, they found the perfect balance between the craziness and a certain sweetness to the love stories that are essentially the focus of their movies. But since Me, Myself And Irene (which is my personal favourite of their movies, since I’m a big Jim Carrey fan), the Farrelly brothers haven’t quite gotten it right. The Heartbreak Kid was the best chance they’ve had to regain some of that lost glory, since they’d be on familiar ground with Stiller. But this film just doesn’t cut it.

As I discovered after I’d seen the movie, The Heartbreak Kid is actually a remake of a 1972 film starring Charles Grodin and Cybil Shepherd. I’m quite sure the Farrellys have changed quite a bit of the source material since remaking the movie. They’ve injected their own brand of gross-out humour into the movie, and I must admit, I did laugh during these moments. But I was laughing out of shock more than hilarity. It’s just a shame that these moments are so few in the film. In between, we’re left with a bland, repetitive love story that quickly bores.

I used to like Ben Stiller. His earlier films were great. But somewhere along the way, his schtick just got repetitive and then quickly became annoying. And here, it’s toned down, but there are moments where it creeps back in. And I could have done without that. His performance in There’s Something About Mary was far more interesting, being a normal, dead-pan guy who suffered some horrible circumstances. The now trade-mark Stiller freak out has been done to death. So why do it again? Michelle Monaghan’s character is simply the girl from the average romantic comedy. She suffers little to no mishaps (this is after all, a wacky comedy) and gets off scot-free, which is all too easy. All the comedy is saved for Malin Akerman as Lila. And she gives it socks, fair dues to her. But when she’s not on screen, there are no laughs. And that includes when ‘comedian’ Carlos Mencia is on screen. His character, Uncle Tito seems to have gotten lost on the way to the set of the latest Adam Sandler crapfest and stumbled into this movie. Utterly pointless.

It’s a damn shame that the Farrellys can’t find their form again. They’ve made some very funny movies, and I sincerely hope they’ll pull it off again. But The Heartbreak Kid isn’t that movie. I must admit it’s not quite as bad as I’d dreaded when I went in. But considering it’s not a good movie, that shows just how low my expectations were.



Marin Mandir said...

I have big expectations for this film. The Farrelly brothers' recent films have all been very appealing for me, relying more on romance and less on vulgarity. But considering your review, I guess they sadly didn't continue their trend. But I will be sure to check the film out when it hits cinemas near me.

Peter Slattery said...

Yeah, there's some jaw-droppingly tasteless stuff in this, but that's to be expected from the Farrellys!