The Heartbreak Kid
Review by Jack Foley
THE Farrelly brothers used to be the standard-bearers for marrying gross out comedy with heartfelt romanticism following hits such as Dumb & Dumber and There’s Something About Mary.
But while they took a step back to explore a more sensitive, family-friendly side with films such as The Ringer and The Perfect Catch, they found themselves overtaken by Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and co. In other words, they became fallen giants in a Superbad world.
The Heartbreak Kid is their long-awaited return to dirty adult comedy and finds them reunited with leading man Ben Stiller for the first time since Mary. But despite a promising start, it’s a misfiring effort that’s eventually more gross than appealing.
Loosely based on Neil Simon’s original of the same name (starring Charles Grodin and Cybil Shepherd), the film finds Stiller’s uptight bachelor Eddie finally heading down the aisle after a whirlwind relationship with Malin Ackerman’s apparently sweet-natured Lila.
Once on their honeymoon, however, Lila reveals herself to be a sex-crazed control freak with a sordid past, while Eddie finds himself falling for the easygoing charm of Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a single woman staying at the same resort with her family.
It’s up to Eddie to try and find a way out of his nightmare without breaking too many hearts in the process.
The Heartbreak Kid does have its funny moments and boasts some nice interplay between Stiller and both of his female co-stars.
But it also gets the balance between the chuckles and the smut horribly wrong so that audiences are less inclined to forgive some of its wildest indulgences.
Stiller’s relationship with his father (played by real-life dad Jerry Stiller) is often painfully frank (and not in a good way), while his best friend Mac (Rob Corddry) proves himself to be a horrible misogynist. A lot of their scenes leave a really bad taste.
The sex scenes, while occasionally funny and brutally revealing, also feel as though the Farrellys are trying too hard, while a big reveal late on (involving a jellyfish sting) lacks the ability to dazzle that the genitals caught in the zipper had in Stiller’s last Farrelly outing.
Humour involving illegal aliens, assault and sex acts with donkeys also feels woefully wide of the mark and a desperate attempt to clutch at past reputations.
Viewers are left to feel sorry for the likes of Stiller, Monaghan and Ackerman (especially) since they are clearly giving their best throughout. But they’re ultimately sold short by an unconvincing screenplay that’s heartbreaking for all the wrong reasons.
Running time: 116mins