Review: The Heartbreak Kid
Just to preface, the movie at hand is the currently untitled Farrelly brothers' film (from the guys who made THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and DUMB AND DUMBER), which is a remake of the 1972 movie THE HEARTBREAK KID. The movie stars Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan, with its current release date being set at October 5, 2007.
REVIEW: If you asked me seven years ago what I thought of the Farrelly brothers, I would've told you that I was a major fan. If you had asked me that same question moments before seeing this movie, I would've told you to leave me alone because I was busy preparing myself for sitting through another probable shitfest. Yes, it seemed likely that, after suffering through many a mediocre comedy from them (OSMOSIS JONES, SHALLOW HAL, FEVER PITCH), the once hilarious directing duo would probably never return to their riotous roots. But lo and behold, a movie that brings hope. Not greatness, mind you. Just hope... Wonderful, gratuitous, sex-filled, R-rated hope.
There are two ingredients that make this film work as well as it does, and neither of them involves Ben Stiller (who, while good, is still bordering that line between annoying and likable). No, the two things that make this work are its wonderful lead actresses, Malin Akerman and Michelle Monaghan. You might remember Akerman as the super-hot wife of Freakshow in the movie HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE. She was the one who showed her tits. (Yeah, now you remember.) Well good news, boys and, er, other boys – the lovely lady once again shows the goods, and at one point, even drops her panties to give you an eyeful of something more (although it's not quite as pleasant as it sounds).
But as good of news as that may be, the even better news (depending on your priorities) is that Akerman is as great an actress as she is hot. I haven't seen someone play crazy this well since Isla Fisher starred as that redheaded nutcase in WEDDING CRASHERS. Just about all the movie's laugh-out-loud moments come courtesy of her. And seeing as how it's her hilarious antics that are going to help this film sell, I can guarantee the theatrical trailer will consist almost entirely of Ben Stiller's new wife annoying the crap out of him. Prepare to see many a clip of Mrs. Psycho incessantly singing off-key to the car radio. (Thankfully, due to its content, the movie's most hilarious sequence is one they'll never show in the trailer. I'll give you a hint... It involves Stiller's new wife being shockingly experienced in the sack. Upon the film's release, expect the line "Cock me!" to be embedded in the minds of teen boys everywhere.)
As I mentioned earlier, the next great piece of the puzzle is Michelle Monaghan (the babe from KISS KISS BANG BANG and MI:III). In another actress's hands, Stiller's scenes with this character probably would have come off as awkward and forced. But with Monaghan as the movie's leading female presence (that isn't a psychopath, that is), the movie ends up working surprisingly well as a romantic comedy. Not too romantic, of course, but enough to show a sweeter and more pleasant side to all the crazy antics with Stiller's loony of a wife.
The only thing that puts a damper on these scenes is Monaghan's character's family. They were just not funny, and worse yet, they were annoying. I especially disliked the Christian redneck cousin, whose entire purpose is served simply by acting like an asshole towards Stiller's character (at one point even taking a baseball bat to him). I also could've done without those obnoxious twin boys (who show up repeatedly, and for no reason). I honestly don't understand how anybody could think these people would make interesting or funny characters. Hopefully their scenes get shortened down for the final cut.
Saving the best character for last, there's Carlos Mencia in a minor role as a hotel employee (with a penchant for saying, "Screw off, I'm joking!" after every dumb comment he makes). And before you get the wrong idea here, allow me to stress just how sarcastic I was being with that "saving the best for last" bit... This guy SUCKS! I'm not one of those people to write off Mencia as a thief/idiot without giving him a chance. I watched at least three to four episodes of MIND OF MENCIA before not being able to stand it anymore. Here, he plays nothing more than one of the stock characters you might see in a skit off his show. That's not too surprising, however, as he only knows how to act out three character-types – those being, annoying Mexican, annoying fat person, and annoying retard. Guess which one his character "Uncle Tito" is...? That's right. All three.
The other hindrances to the film involve some major problems with pacing, as well as a disappointingly unfunny final half hour. With some extensive cuts in editing, the pacing can still probably be saved. The movie ran at about two hours long, with the beginning taking a little too long to get going, and then the end just being altogether lousy.
Seeing as how this was a test screening, I think we can be rest assured that some scenes will be cut, but I highly doubt they'll be able to save the movie's third act. The whole thing is just utterly ridiculous and laugh-free, with Ben Stiller making attempt after attempt to sneak back from Mexico (where his honeymoon was taking place) into the US. It doesn't help matters that both Akerman and Monaghan are absent from this point in the movie. The entire section feels like nothing more than build-up to the one final joke at the film's end, which was a scene that literally made most of the audience groan (and caused one person to shout, "That ending sucks!"). Hopefully that closing gag makes it on the DVD as an alternate ending, and they instead opt to conclude the film with something of a little more substance (or, at least humor that induces laughs, and not eyes rolling in the back of heads).
though the movie has its fair share of problems, it does have enough
laughs to make it worth your while. It doesn't even come close to
being on par with THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, but it's certainly
better than some of the other stuff that Stiller and the Farrelly's
have been doing recently. If nothing else, it makes for a solid
matinee showing with your friends. And if you have a lady friend who
doesn't mind a bit of gross-out humor and sex jokes, it actually
makes for a rather decent date movie as well. Just don't blame if
she ends up dumping you after the credits roll.
out of 10
-- by Quigles