- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
sk any director whether they’d ever consider remaking a movie and you’d likely hear the same answer each time. In the words of Rob Zombie, “I feel it’s the worst thing any filmmaker can do.” And yet somehow, several remakes are released every year. Sometimes it's because a rookie director just needs their big break, and other times it's because the director in question is falling behind on his mortgage. Heck, even Zombie himself gave in to the allure of a bigger paycheck when he signed on to remake “Halloween,” but in the case of the Farrelly brothers, it’s more about the glory than anything else. Desperate to rekindle the box office success of “There’s Something About Mary,” the brothers have re-teamed with Ben Stiller for a remake of “The Heartbreak Kid” that is surprisingly watchable, if not even mildly entertaining.
Stiller stars as Eddie Cantrow, a 40-year-old bachelor who, after attending the wedding of his ex-fiancé, is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever find the perfect woman. And then he meets Lila (Malin Akerman), a beautiful environmentalist who takes an immediate liking to Eddie after he saves her from a crazy mugger. The courtship lasts only six weeks before the pair decide to get hitched, but as they travel down to Cabo, Mexico for their honeymoon, Lila’s wild personality is suddenly unleashed. From her aggressive sexual behavior to her bothersome deviated septum, Eddie soon realizes this isn’t the woman he married, and he wants out – now.
The feeling only grows stronger after a happenchance meeting with Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a fellow vacationer at the Mexican resort who befriends Eddie one night while Lila is busy nursing her bubbling sunburn. Unaware that Eddie is actually on his honeymoon, Miranda begins to fall for the hopeless romantic until it’s revealed why he’s really there. Trapped in the country after Lila burns his wallet and passport, Eddie enlists in the help of resort concierge Uncle Tito (Carlos Mencia) to sneak him across the border and win back Miranda’s love.
Though we’ve all seen Ben Stiller go through the motions before, his performance in “The Heartbreak Kid” is relatively subdued – for a while, anyways. Once Eddie the Nice Guy transforms into Eddie the Jerk, Stiller’s over-the-top shenanigans take over. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that this is also when the movie goes from watchable to downright annoying; though the actor gets considerable help from a handful of running jokes that get less and less funny each time they reappear. The rest of the cast, however, is excellent. Monaghan makes the best of her girl-next-door charm, while Jerry Stiller and Rob Corddry (as Eddie’s father and best friend, respectively) make do with what little screen time their given. But it’s Malin Akerman as the wife from Hell who ultimately steals the show, delivering the best psycho chick performance since Isla Fisher in “Wedding Crashers" and channeling the same happy-go-lucky charisma that made Cameron Diaz a star.
Still, like most Ben Stiller movies, “The Heartbreak Kid” is pretty hit and miss. The jokes are never rip-roaringly funny and a late attempt at turning the film into a black comedy fails miserably. While I respect the Farrellys for trying to catch lighting in a bottle twice, it’s now painfully clear that they’ll never match the success of “There’s Something About Mary.” This actually has less to do with the quality of their films than it does with luck and timing, because had “Mary” been released after other R-rated adult comedies like “Wedding Crashers," methinks the reception wouldn’t have been so grand. As for “The Heartbreak Kid,” it doesn’t quite blow as hard as the marketing may suggest, but there’s also no reason to fall in love.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
When "The Heartbreak Kid" was first released on DVD, I proclaimed it as one of the worst releases of the year. Now, that honor passes to the Blu-ray edition as well, because with the exception of an HD video transfer and Dolby TrueHD audio track (and really, why in the world would any of that matter for a movie like this?), the included bonus material still sucks. Forget the fact that some movies never even include special features – the ones that appear here are so incredibly pointless that Paramount shouldn’t have even bothered. The audio commentary by the Farrelly brothers is shallow, the deleted scenes are easily forgettable, and the gag reel doesn’t contain a single humorous moment. Add to that featurettes on the Farrellys (“The Farrelly Brothers in the French Tradition”), the Stillers (“Ben & Jerry”), a cast and crew Halloween party, and a weekly cast and crew egg toss competition, and you’re looking at some of the lamest bonus content in recent years. Ugh.