The Heartbreak Kid Review
Hollywood’s fascination with remakes continues with this thinly disguised take on Neil Simon's 1972 romantic comedy. This being the Farrelly Brothers however, the romance is sidelined to make way for a lot of gross out humour and a healthy dose of jokes based around bodily functions.
Ben Stiller plays Eddie Cantrow, a man so afraid of commitment that he dumped his last girlfriend because she thought the gopher in Caddyshack looked fake. No one is good enough for him and, after attending an ex-fiancée’s wedding, he sees a life of bachelorhood stretching out in front of him. Then he meets Lila, a beautiful environmental researcher with a knockout body and a smile to die for and within two weeks he has taken the plunge and stands at the alter, a newly married man. A romantic honeymoon in Mexico beckons, but even before they arrive Lila’s true personality emerges and Eddie realises he has made a big mistake. She likes to sing along to every song on the radio, and even worse knows all the words, isn’t great at maths, loves energetic violent sex and used to have a cocaine habit. Luckily for Eddie there is another beautiful woman, Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), staying at the same hotel and so begins a bad taste comedy of errors as he tries to worm his way out of one relationship and start a new one.
The main problem here is the central character. Eddie is a shallow snob who really doesn’t deserve either of the women that he pursues. He spends a night complaining about his fiancée’s coke habit to his new beau while they share a joint and get stoned on the beach. Are the directors trying to tell us that it’s OK to get high as a kite as long as it’s with the aid of a more socially acceptable illegal substance? Eddie’s complaints about Lila amount to nothing more than petty whinging. She likes rough sex: a boon in some people’s eyes. She works as an unpaid volunteer: Admirable to the average man in the street. She had a coke habit: Not any more, so what’s the problem? The list goes on, and the more we hear his moaning the more we lose sympathy with the man who should be the sympathetic character we are associating with. Add to that the fact that Miranda’s family are the kind of people you would cross the beach to avoid and you start to wonder just where Eddie draws the line.
Despite all that there is much to enjoy here. Malin Akerman is delightful as Lila, and shows great comic timing through a series of, what could have been, borderline misogynistic set ups. Michelle Monaghan is pretty, but has little to get her teeth into as Miranda, and Jerry Stiller, Ben’s real life father, is a hoot as his sex obsessed father. This feels more like a sequel to There’s Something About Mary than a remake of Neil Simon’s gentle film, with a particularly explicit urination scene taking the place of the now famous hair gel episode. The glue holding this all together, and making it worth watching, is Ben Stiller. He is just so likeable as Eddie that you very nearly forget what a complete arse he really is and you almost want him to live happily ever after with Miranda. Almost! Until the Farrelly’s drop in a coda which shows that he hasn’t changed and he probably will end up the eternal bachelor.
If you are a fan of the Farrelly’s work this should keep you amused, but don’t expect it to reach the comic heights of Dumb and Dumber or There’s Something About Mary. Think along the lines of Stuck On You, but with a higher gross out quotient.