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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: The Heartbreak Kid

Synopsis

Single and indecisive, Eddie (Ben Stiller) begins dating the incredibly sexy and seemingly fabulous Lila (Malin Akerman). Upon the urging of his father (Jerry Stiller) and best friend (Rob Corddry), Eddie proposes to her after only a week, fearing this may be his last chance at love, marriage, and happiness.

However, while on their honeymoon in sunny Mexico, Lila reveals her true beyond-awful nature and Eddie meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), the woman he realizes to be his actual soul mate. Eddie must keep his new, increasingly horrid wife at bay as he attempts to woo the girl of his dreams.

Review

by Drew Hunt

There’s little arguing the fact that the Farrelly Brothers seminal and most heralded film to date, There’s Something About Mary, is one of the funniest and most charming movies of the past thirty years. Superbly and effortlessly blending gross-out humor with romantic charm, Mary is a landmark film in many respects: it cemented its star, Ben Stiller, as a comedic force to be reckoned with; it launched its young filmmakers into the limelight, shining a bright future upon them; and, most importantly, it had a sperm gag. A hilarious, historical sperm gag.

So with the comedy world seemingly in front of them, Peter and Bobby Farrelly ventured forth to direct three critically panned and highly underwhelming films in a row. Although possibly pleasing to their key demographic, each of their efforts failed to match the irreverent sincerity of Mary, and their status as the “sickos-with-hearts” has undoubtedly been passed on to the likes of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen. But still, when you direct a film where a man can somehow manage to get his beans above his frank and have it gross $369 million world wide, people will continue take notice to your work; especially when you've returned to the well and brought back the man who made you millions.

This effort is known as The Heartbreak Kid. A remake of the 1972 film of the same name, the script doesn't match the dark wit and social satire of Elaine May’s original, though there is enough here for Stiller to shine. He stars as Eddie, the inverse of the typical “always a bridesmaid and never a bride.” He’s forty-years-old and has yet to take the plunge, often citing pathetic reasons for his growing number of breakups (“She thought the gopher from “Caddyshack” looked fake”). Eventually, however, he takes the plunge after continuing pressure from his father (Stiller’s actual father, Jerry Stiller) and best friend Mac (The Daily Show’s Rob Corddry), despite the fact he’s only known the girl for six weeks. His wife-to-be is Lila (Malin Ackerman), a young, blonde environmental researcher whom he met while attempting to prevent a mugger from snatching up her purse. As the two cruise to Cabo for their honeymoon, signs almost immediately appear that Lila is all wrong for Eddie – from her singing every song on the radio, making him perform acrobatic sex, and casually mentioning that both her aforementioned profession as an environmental researcher and mugger are actually an unpaid volunteer program and an ex-boyfriend, respectively. But when Eddie meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), he discovers that he may have married the wrong girl just in time to meet the right one. As Eddie tries desperately to keep Lila and Miranda from their inevitable meeting, the laughs are meant to come tumbling down. And sometimes they do.

The cast is filled with skilled farceurs. Both Stillers are of course seasoned vets, and Corddry provides the moderate chuckles he is known for. However, the definite chemistry the three share is wasted on scenes where the laughs are more grounded, and subsequently less bombastic. Instead, Ben Stiller is left for most of the movie with the under qualified Ackerman and Monaghan, and Comedy Central’s Carlos Mencia, who fails to keep the laughs in long stretches. Alleviating some of the drought is Danny McBride, who is slated to appear in the Owen Wilson vehicle Drillbit Taylor, as well as the Stiller directed Tropic Thunder. While earnest in his efforts, McBride shows his inexperience as he fails to keep up with the always on-point Stiller. That’s not to say, however, that he does not show promise, as his character’s penchant towards Parcheesi produces some of the films biggest laughs.

So by leaving Stiller essentially on his own, the movie falters where it could have brilliantly shone. At that, the script is full of holes and filler. Unsuccessfully replacing the “hair-gel” and “zipper” gags are hairy vaginas and donkey shows (not unlike the kind describe eloquently by Rogen in the 40-Year-Old Virgin). The third act is a total mess, topping one unlikely scenario on top of another to the point of sheer nonsense, although surprisingly the films final moments are both refreshing and funny, almost redeeming the previous twenty minutes. But not quite.

Fans of Stiller will rejoice in yet another hilarious performance.  He’s in classic form here and as funny as he has ever been. It’s his uncanny ability to allow the audience to find solace in his conflicted character that makes him so great, and this role is no exception. Anyone can find something to relate to in each of Stiller’s characters, from Derek Zoolander all the way down his take as a heartbreak kid. With his latest effort, he again proves to be one the most accessible, and most funny, actors working today.

It is for this reason that The Heartbreak Kid neither fails nor succeeds. Stiller saves a sinking ship, but it doesn't change the fact that the boat was never fit to take sail in the first place. The direction is deft, but not entirely exceptional, and sees the Farrelly Brothers continue their slue of mediocre efforts. At least this time they were sensible enough to go to the guy who made them famous in the first place.

Trailer

Posters

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Soundtrack Details

01 The Flaming Lips: "The Horny Frog"
02 David Bowie: "Ashes to Ashes"
03 Buva: "She Makes Me Fall Down"
04 World Party: "Put the Message in the Box"
05 John Alagia: "Honey Come Home"
06 The Weepies: "Painting by Chagall"
07 Brian Hyland: "Gypsy Woman"
08 Amy LeVere: "Take Em or Leave Em"
09 Buva: "First Cut Is the Deepest"
10 Julieta Venegas: "Canciones de Amor"
11 The Flaming Lips: "Maybe I'm Not the One"
12 Ozomatli: "After Party"
13 Mathew Sweet/Susanna Hoffs: "Different Drum"
14 David Bowie: "Suffragette City"

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