The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
Perhaps the most enduring theme for literature and cinema is the love story. This versatile genre can be the basis for drama, thrillers and comedy with equal ease. In the hands of movie’s gross out kings, Peter and Bobby Farrelly the topic takes on an aspect of a J. Geils Band song, ‘Love Stinks’. Their latest flick, ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ is a twisted tale of love that falls short of its potential. First of all it is a remake of a 1972 film by the same name featuring Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd. Admittedly casting Ben Stiller in the lead makes the film better than Mr. Grodin was able to provide. This is a try to recapture the lighting in a bottle that was ‘There’s Something About Mary’ and although a good try is made it didn’t quite get there. The film admittedly has its moments and can make for a reasonable guilty pleasure flick. You just can’t go into this film with great expectations. It is not classic Farrelly brother’s faire; it is more like a self parody of their previous works. Instead of letting the film be it’s own the Brothers appear to be trying to deliver what the audiences have expected from them, silly gross humor. Now there is a place in the wide world of cinema for such flicks. Not every one has to be fantastic, some are there to enjoy with friends, a keg of beer and a couple of pizzas.
The comedy in this film is puerile, so first of all leave any adult part of your brain in neutral before inserting the disc in your DVD player. Also be warned, this is not a date movie. If you see this with your girlfriend or wife expect a protracted chat about commitment and the depth of your relationship. There is nothing like a man wanting to leave his wife for another woman while still on their honeymoon to get a ‘do you really love me’ discussion going. This is a guy’s flick where men can do what we do best; place adult responsibilities on the shelf and let your inner child out for awhile. Just make sure your inner child enjoys humor based on most types of bodily fluids and implausible yet embarrassing situations. It is not even that the level of comedy is less than in ‘Mary’, just that the Farrelly Brothers haven’t moved on since then, What was groundbreaking in 1998 has been parodied and copied over and over since then. I know these men have more original material in them and I can’t wait for them to tap into it.
Once again the Brothers turn to the master of strange humor and star of their biggest hit, Ben Stiller. He plays Eddie Cantrow a well received and amiable sort of fellow. He makes a living at the sporting goods store he owns in San Francisco. He is very close to this father, Doc (Jerry Stiller) and best friend Mac (Rob Corddry) but is annoyed that both of them are constantly on his case about his lack of female companionship. Valentine’s Day is coming up and Eddie has a wedding to attend. Doc is happy until he finds out the bride is Eddie’s ex fiancée Jodi (Ali Hillis). Mac is completely whipped even to the point of drinking a Cosmo just because his wife drinks them. Things are humiliating for Eddie at the wedding when he discovers his ex has placed him at the children’s table which is called the single’s table. One day while walking home he sees a man on a bicycle steal a young woman’s purse. He tries to stop the guy but the thief gets away. The woman, Lila (Malin Akerman) thanks him and they start seeing each other. Doc and Mac push Eddie into getting serious fast. After all he is over forty and needs a woman in his life. Lila is sweet, pretty and considerate, or at least that is the initial impression she gives. The two become a couple that appears to be joined at the lips as the give new meaning to public displays of affection. Somehow Eddie allows the pushing of Mac and Doc get to him and he proposes to Lila immediately afterwards they are married and off to their honeymoon in Mexico. The road trip down the coast seems okay at first but soon the real Lila comes out. She refuses to go any of the places that he wants to. In the car her constant singing alone with everything from Muskrat love to the Spice Girls gets on Eddie’s nerves. In bed she almost breaks Eddie in half taking domination to a new level.
Once at the resort things just get worse for Eddie. He is certain that he made the mistake of his life but sees no way out of the circumstances. Things start to look up when he has a chance meeting with a beautiful young woman, Miranda (Michelle Monaghan). She is down there with her family for a vow renewal ceremony. They begin to hit it off and Eddie finds himself coming up with any excuse to slip away from Lila and meet up with Miranda. He can justify it to himself with the excuse that he really doesn’t know his wife. One example is the discovery that Lila is in massive debt do to her former addition to cocaine. When Lila gets a bad case of sun burn Eddie feels free and able to see Miranda.
This film has one of the grosses scenes every placed in a Farrelly Brothers flick. It has to do with the traditional remedy for a jelly fish bite. When Lila goes to urinate on Eddie she reveals the worse merkin in the history of mankind. This is pretty typical of how the film flows. Most of the grossness is forced upon the hapless Eddie. Fortunately Ben Stiller is able to handle self depreciating humor better than anyone out there. He has the look of a guy that is struggling just to find a little bit of happiness in life. This is a role he has played many times in the past so he has it down to an art form. His father, Jerry, has been a comedian for decades but is not given much to do here. Mostly the senior Stiller gets a shock line or two saying thing no one would expect their father to say. Some of the sight gags are well done especially the bride and grooms bedroom antics. Lila comes up with terms and demands that would get her kicked out of the kinkiest places on earth. The film is paced well moving along fast with only a few dead spots.
Dreamworks, the more adult division of Disney, does a great job with the DVD release. The anamorphic 2.35:1 video is excellent with vibrant colors and wonderful tonal balance. The Dolby 5.1 audio provides a realistic ambience and full sound stage. There are plenty of extras to enjoy. There is a feature commentary track where the Brothers cut up and try to explain the production of the film. There are deleted scenes and a blooper real that is a hoot. A featurette focuses on the real life father and son team of Jerry and Ben and how it was to work together. If you find yourself with your wife out of town and no game on the tube invite your friends over for a raunchy time.
Paramount has been going back to titles previously released in HD-DVD and reissuing them in Blu-ray. They transfer is spectacular. The color balance and picture clarity is amazing. The new Dolby True HD audio fills the room with a realistic sound stage.
Posted 12/15/07 (DVD)
Posted 12/07/08 (Blu-ray)