It’s been awhile since we last heard of the Farrelly Brothers. In that time, Judd Apatow has come along and become the king of the raunchy comedy with heart, with films like The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Now the Farrellys are back to stake their claim to the title with The Heartbreak Kid – a sweet romantic comedy that’s spiced up with the kind of inappropriate and, yes, raunchy gags that made There’s Something About Mary a hit.
Although The Heartbreak Kid shares a few major plot points with the film of the same name that was directed by Elaine May, the Farrelly Brothers have taken those plot points into a whole different mindset. With Ben Stiller starring as Eddie Cantrow, a sporting goods store owner who is still single at forty, the Farrellys take a look at not only the pressure from family and friends to get married, but the fear of being alone – though they carefully disguised these serious thoughts as a raunchy comedy.
We all know an Eddie Cantrow. He’s the guy who goes stag to a wedding – and winds up at a singles table where the average age is [even with counting him in] about twelve. He’s the guy who had his heart broken and was never quite able to get back on the horse, so to speak. He may also have a parent who is always asking if he’s ever going to provide grandchildren. And he’s the guy who might just mistake a less than solid connection with a woman to be love – and get married – before he discovers that they are completely wrong for each other.
That’s what happens to Eddie here. Only the discovery that he’s made a horrifying mistake comes almost immediately after the wedding, when he discovers his new bride, Lila [Malin Akerman], is a recovering drug addict, sex addict and has horrendous taste in music [and worse, sings along with everything!] There’s more, but you get the idea.
When the newlyweds arrive in Cabo, Mexico, Lila [who is dumber than the proverbial sack of hammers] refuses to believe Eddie when he tries to get her to use sunscreen. In no time at all, we’re talking serious lobster! Worse, she blames Eddie!
So, what’s a guy to do but head to the bar and drown his sorrows – which is when Miranda [Michelle Monaghan] arrives on the scene, and before the night is through, Eddie is in real, honest-to-god love. Cue the mariachis [or not – especially in this movie]. Now Eddie makes a terrible mistake: instead of being brutally honest and ending things with Lila, he contrives to spend time with Miranda and her cheerfully redneck family while allowing Lila time to be alone and heal.
Naturally, everything that can go wrong, does. Repeatedly. With emphasis.
If there’s one thing Ben Stiller does better than almost anyone, it’s fall apart in a way that mixes both humor and sadness. He is able to make an audience laugh at his travails [see extended wetback montage] and tear up just a little [his speech to Miranda, in her home – where she is bed with… well, you can probably figure that one out.
But, you might say, breaking one heart does not a Heartbreak Kid make. Well, pay close attention to a lovely little cameo with Eva Longoria before you actually say that. Trust me, it’s funny stuff.
From the trailer, you will have seen some of the best bits in the movie [the pet that isn’t, the mariachi explosion], but there are a couple of terrifically rude gags involving Lila’s deviated septum – including one that matches There’s Something About Mary’s hair gel scene. It’s a scene that convinces that the Farrellys are not just back, they’re back in form!
With The Heartbreak Kid, the Farrellys serve notice that Mr. Apatow isn’t the only master of the Raunchy Comedy With Heart genre – and Ben Stiller returns to the rowdier kind of film in which he excels. What it comes down to – after you look at the warped script [also by the Farrellys], the direction that serves up the sweetness and the raunch with equal dexterity, and the performances – especially of Stiller, Akerman [who makes us believe this beautiful woman is totally gonzo] and Monaghan – is that I laughed out loud. Often.
Final Grade: A-
Eclipse Review posted by sheldon wiebe
Originally Posted on 10/05/07