THE HEARTBREAK KID
** (out of 5)
October 5, 2007
Ben Stiller as EDDIE CANTROW
Michelle Monaghan as MIRANDA
Jerry Stiller as DOC
Malin Akerman as LILA
Carlos Mencia as UNCLE TITO
Directed by: The Farrelly Brothers
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Ever since the Farrelly Brothers made “There’s Something About Mary” ten years ago, it seems they’re trying to recreate that magic. But over and over and over again, they keep misfiring. This time, they’ve even gone as far to cast Ben Still again opposite a hot blonde in the raunchy comedy “The Heartbreak Kid.”
The reason it has been so hard to recreate the lightning-in-a-bottle that was “There’s Something About Mary” is when they made that film, it was a quirky, original movie. From the trailers of “The Heartbreak Kid,” it seems that the Brothers Farrelly were approached by the studio to duplicate their magic, and they tries to make it by formula.
In this film, Stiller plays Eddie Cantrow, a similar whiney character to his role in “Mary,” but instead of never getting a girl, he just can’t commit. Then he meets Lila (Malin Akerman) and he falls in love. In order to keep her from being transferred by her job, Eddie marries her. However, after they start their honeymoon, things go sour and Lila turns out to be nut job with a weird and dangerous past.
Fortunately, at the resort where they’re honeymooning, Eddie runs into a new girl named Miranda (Michelle Monaghan). She seems perfect, and Eddie finds himself falling for her. Now, he must juggle his courtship of this new girl while his psycho new bride is nursing her sunburn in their room.
The story’s quite a bit different, actually. However, all the elements that seemed to make “There’s Something About Mary” a hit were recreated in some way in this film – and usually to a less-funny result. There’s a scene reminiscent of Stiller getting his junk caught in his zipper. There’s a scene like the fishhook-in-the-mouth shot. There’s a musical dating montage. There’s even the best friend who hates his wife.
And when “The Heartbreak Kid” isn’t ripping off “There’s Something About Mary,” it’s stealing from Stiller’s other nuptial hit, “Meet the Parents.” Remember the cat urinating on the ashes? Well, we’ve got something like that in this film, too.
I wouldn’t say that “The Heartbreak Kid” is a total waste of time. There are some funny scenes, some great lines and you also get a chance to see Malin Akerman naked, which is never a bad thing. However, most of the funny lines come from Jerry Stiller as Eddie’s crass father, and he’s only in select scenes.
Ben Stiller has been down this character road before, to much funnier degrees in “Something About Mary” and “Meet the Parents.” And there’s just too many gross-out jokes shoehorned into the purposefully obnoxious story.
“The Heartbreak Kid” is being promoted as an R-rated comedy for adults, which is also part of the problem. This summer, we saw two hilarious R-rated adult comedies – “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” – both courtesy of Judd Apatow. “The Heartbreak Kid” isn’t a good follow-up.
And from the romantic comedy angle, it doesn’t work either. Like “Good Luck Chuck,” there’s too many deliberately raunchy scenes, there’s not enough chemistry between Stiller and Monaghan and I just don’t see the typical chick flick chick liking the character of Eddie enough to tell her friends to go see it.
Malin Akerman is pretty, but she’s no Cameron Diaz. Neither is Michelle Monaghan, for that matter, as she seems to channel Justine Bateman in the movie. When all of these elements are stuffed in the blender and puréed by the Hollywood machine, we’re left with a pale imitation of the directors’ previous work. You’d be better off renting “There’s Something About Mary” and watching it at home.