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THE HEARTBREAK KID

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman, Jerry Stiller, Rob Corddry, Carlos Mencia, Scott Wilson, Danny McBride
Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Dreamworks
Features: See Review
Length: 115 Minutes
Release Date: December 26, 2007

“From the second I fell in love with Miranda, I haven’t once cheated on her with my wife.”

Film **1/2

When I heard that the Farrelly Brothers were reuniting with Ben Stiller and returning to their R-rated antics with The Heartbreak Kid, I couldn’t wait to see what envelope-pushing gags they would have on display. As expected, the movie is certainly their raunchiest since There’s Something About Mary. Unfortunately, the outrageous moments are overshadowed by a story that simply drags on longer than it needs to, with a few too many characters than it needs.

Actually, I’m going to be much kinder to the film than the critics were when it hit theaters. All the reviews seemed to needlessly point out that the Farrelly’s have lost their touch, as well as compare them to Judd Apatow. True, Mr. Apatow had an amazingly good year, but the Farrelly Brothers will always be every bit as equal to him in terms of extreme hilarity. In my opinion, many of the movies with Apatow’s name wouldn’t exist had it not been for the Farrelly’s finest work.

And truth be told, The Heartbreak Kid, a remake of a 1972 romantic comedy starring Charles Grodin, is hardly a bad movie and it is certainly a step up from their last misfire, Fever Pitch. But being a fan of many of their past films, especially Kingpin and Me, Myself and Irene, I didn’t find this story to have the same level of unpredictability that those films had. Save for a strangely funny and unexpected final scene, The Heartbreak Kid is mostly predictable from scene one.

Stiller is in fine form, though, as Eddie Cantrow, a 40-year-old bachelor who’s long given up on the prospect of marriage, especially after attending the wedding of a former flame. But it’s a chance meeting with the beautiful Lila (Malin Akerman) that causes Eddie to reconsider. He falls head over heels in love with her, and considers proposing to her almost right away.

They do tie the knot, and prepare for a romantic honeymoon in Mexico. And it’s one the way down to Mexico where Eddie starts to see changes in the woman he thought he had all figured out. Her annoying singing of countless songs during the trip gets on his nerves tremendously, and he doesn’t know what to make of her more than aggressive love making skills.

And it’s in Mexico where one complication arises after another. When Lila ends up badly sunburned (a very funny scene), and is forced to stay indoors, Eddie enjoys the Mexican scenery and winds up crossing paths with Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a beautiful, down-to-earth girl who’s vacationing with her family. Their meeting couldn’t have come at a better time, because Eddie is already starting to have doubts about his current marriage.

Eddie and Miranda hit it off immediately, but of course hides the fact that he’s married and on his honeymoon. But Eddie’s plan to come clean to either his wife or Miranda about the truth, putting him in a quite an awkward predicament. And after a series of misunderstandings, the situation explodes in an uproarious scene involving a jellyfish.

But in and around the big laughs in The Heartbreak Kid are scenes that occasionally drag, which doesn’t do a movie that’s easy to read much justice. And there are also too much attention paid to characters who don’t even need to be in the movie, particularly an annoying Mexican character played by the extremely annoying Carlos Mencia, as well as numerous members of Miranda’s family.

And the ending takes forever to arrive, which borders on painful. And yet, the very last scene of the movie ends on a most clever note. What this illustrates more than anything is that the movie was in dire need of a better editor.

So for me, The Heartbreak Kid is indeed a mixed bag. I have so much admiration for the Farrelly Brothers as well as Ben Stiller. And they almost had me with this one, which does have its share of trademark Farrelly moments, but the overall predictable story and the presence of too many unnecessary characters prevented me from ranking this alongside their classics.

Video ****

Dreamworks does a most tremendous job with the video quality of this release. The anamorphic picture is bright, lively and clear from beginning to end. Not a single image flaw detected whatsoever. A truly top-notch job!

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix delivers quite nicely on this release. For the most part it’s a dialogue driven comedy, but the occasional physical and crude pratfalls, along with a nice lineup of catchy pop songs (another Farrelly trademark) give this presentation some added kick.

Features ***1/2

Not a bad list of extras at all on this Dreamworks release. We have a commentary track with the Farrelly Brothers, Deleted Scenes, a Gag Reel and the featurettes “The Farrelly Brothers in The French Tradition”,
”Ben & Jerry”, “Heartbreak Halloween”, “The Egg Toss”.

Summary:

It’s a close call but The Heartbreak Kid has a couple, but too crucial, flaws to keep me from calling this a raunchy Farrelly Brothers classic that it had the potential to be. But let it be known, the movie’s big laughs are riotous and I almost want to recommend the movie so that you can see those moments.

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