Based on a 1972 Neil Simon comedy which was underscored with notes on ethnic assimilation and class structure, The Heartbreak Kid redux has taken a walk through the dirty minds of The Farrelly Brothers and emerged on the other side as a raunchy update that focuses on laughs rather than social subtext.
Ben Stiller plays Eddie, a riff on his usual character—single, insecure and indecisive—who, after a chance meeting on the street, begins dating Lila (Canadian actress Malin Akerman). She’s beautiful, funny and, he thinks, just might be his last shot at finding love. With his father (Jerry Stiller) and best friend (Rob Cordrey) egging him on Eddie proposes to Lila just a few weeks after meeting her. All goes well until their sunny Mexican honeymoon when Eddie meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), the woman he comes to believe just might actually be his soul mate.
The Farrelly Brothers are pioneers at this kind of comedy. Ten years ago There’s Something About Mary burned up screens with an irreverent mix of romance and gross-out humor. Since those heady days they have been supplanted by a new generation of directors—The 40 Year Old Virgin’s Judd Apatow comes to mind—who have taken the vulgarity up to stratospheric levels, relegating the Farrelly’s to old-timer status—the all-stars who can no longer hit it out of the park. After seeing this movie Apatow fans will yell, The Kings are dead! Long live the king!
There is some anticipation for the repairing of Ben Stiller with the sibling directors. They haven’t worked together since Mary, the movie that really established both their careers, so expectations are high. Unfortunately, in the ten years between the projects Stiller has developed a comic persona that he brings to virtually every project he’s involved in, and while the indecisive / insecure guy routine worked well in Meet the Parents and its offspring, here it seems kind of stale. His character Eddie is revealed to be a lying cheater and while we’re supposed to find him charming and likable, he comes off as manipulative and creepy.
There’s nothing really that wrong with The Heartbreak Kid. It has some funny moments, just not enough of them. It has some envelope pushing moments, a la There’s Something About Mary, but not enough of them to compete with most of this season’s outrageous comedies. It’s kind of average, offering up laughs here and there, but unlike the recent hit Superbad, there’s nothing here that people will be talking about the next day.