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Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Ben Stiller ………. Eddie Cantrow
Michelle Monaghan ………. Miranda
Jerry Stiller ………. Doc
Malin Akerman ………. Lila
Carlos Mencia ………. Uncle Tito
Rob Corddry ………. Mac
Ben Stiller is right at the edge of the time when being in a romantic comedy is something he’s almost too old for to be in the lead role. After a career that has been littered with them, his hair has gone a bit grayer and his presence is becoming a bit tougher to swallow. The young pretty blondes of the bulk of his career are beginning to seem a bit more implausible, as he’s now starting to look the part of someone else other than a romantic comedy lead. And if The Heartbreak Kid is a sign of anything, it’s that perhaps Stiller has finally exhausted his time in romantic comedies that have comprised a large chunk of his career so far.
A remake of a film of the same name, Stiller stars as a man in his 40s who’s beginning to feel his age so to speak. Reminded of how he’s alone in this world at the wedding of his former fiancÃ©e, on Valentine’s Day nonetheless, Eddie (Stiller) is realizing that his window of happiness with a woman is closing quickly. Prodded on by his best friend (Rob Corddry) and his sex-obsessed father (Jerry Stiller, Ben’s real life father), he marries a seemingly nice and beautiful woman (Malin Akerman) after only knowing her for six weeks. Things start to go painfully awry right away after his marriage, as the nice scientist he thought he married has turned out to be a former junkie without any regular stream of income and a predilection for violence in the bedroom. Things get complicated when he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), perhaps the perfect woman for him, while on his honeymoon.
In the truest sense of the phrase this is a romantic comedy, as it’s about romance and aims to be funny, but unfortunately it really doesn’t do much of either. While remade from a classic film, The Heartbreak Kid struggles because it’s too familiar in terms of its cast and directors. While the Farrellys and Stiller made There’s Something About Mary, perhaps the funniest film of the last 20 years, everything about the film seems like a pale attempt to recreate the “lightning in a bottle” that the film had. There’s plenty of raunchy humor and Stiller is involved with plenty of humor of the slapstick variety, it’s nothing new. If their first collaboration raised the bar, this latest attempt tries merely to clear a hurdle slightly lower. Which is a shame, really, because the film is rife with so many possibilities and the script goes for the easy gag and setup much more often than it should. It goes for the easy, transparent gag as opposed to setting up for something funnier. There’s plenty of good gags to be found and some really funny moments, but most of those are wasted on the trailer.
What’s left are a number of moderately funny jokes meshed in with lots of dry and painful gags, as well as a story that’s a bit to be desired. It’s hard to feel bad for Eddie for the most part, unfortunately, because of the nature of his quick marriage. It’s a bad decision and something he tries to get out of quickly, but at the same time watching the film one has to wonder why he would jump in so quickly. While the movie wouldn’t work without it, the fact that all of the sane rational objections that come out early on seem to go over his head with an ease that leaves us without too much sympathy for Eddie’s plight.
It doesn’t help the film that the best chemistry comes from the Stiller duo. Jerry seems to revel in being able to be a crass pervert, as opposed to his usual roles while Ben does seem to be having more fun being the straight man to his father than he has in the last couple years. The two have terrific timing, obviously, but Ben and the two leading women of the film don’t work well together. The timing is off and the chemistry is not there; in a romantic comedy that’s the key to everything and the film falls apart without that.
The Heartbreak Kid seems like an attempt by those involved to try and recapture There’s Something about Mary. You have a blonde with a penchant for physical humor, lots of gross out jokes and Ben Stiller. What you don’t have, however, is the same magic from a decade ago.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):