Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Drearily obnoxious "Heartbreak Kid" breaks comedy to pieces

The Heartbreak Kid (2007) 
115 min., rated R.
Grade: D

Loosely based on the 1972 Elaine May farce by the same name, "The Heartbreak Kid" is a dumbed-down, grossed-up, and drug-out remake. And it's an embarrassment for all involved and misery for us watching. 

Ben Stiller is no stranger to this type of role, playing middle-aged San Francisco bachelor Eddie. He rushes into marrying a blond, beautiful environmental researcher named Lila (Malin Akerman) and then slowly-but-surely discovers on their honeymoon in Cabo, Mexico that his bride is a complete nightmare. Lila sings along to every song on the radio, insists they hold hands at breakfast, and causes Eddie to feel physical pain during sex, and that's just the beginning. Needless to say, he falls for free-spirited Mississippi vacation girl Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) instead. 

If any moviegoer that loves busting a gut needs proof that comedy is a fragile business and an effortful case to crack these days, even for the Farrellys, "The Heartbreak Kid" is it. This typical gross-out enterprise from brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly—of all people, and startlingly co-written by two more people—is grating, interminable, mean-spirited and worst of all, excruciatingly unfunny when all it had to do was bring on the funny. The ribald R-rating puts the "yuck" in yuk, relying desperately on bodily humor for laughs with queasily grotesque gags involving overgrown pubic hair, a jelly fish, nasty sunburn, and a deviated septum, none that ever surpass the slyly hilarious payoff of "There's Something About Mary's" 'hair gel gag' or 'Stiller's penile flesh caught in a zipper gag.' However, there are two wildly funny sex scenes, proving the Akerman character to be a freak in the sheets while shouting "Jackhammer me!"

Stiller's Eddie is an unappealing jerk that you don't really care if Lila drives him off a cliff. Though admittedly showing fearlessly nimble comic flair and will remind some of Cameron Diaz, Akerman is obliged to act insufferably obnoxious as a harridan and embarrass herself repeatedly. Frankly, you just feel sorry for her. But Monaghan adds much-needed, amiable charm as Miranda that you can't really blame Eddie for liking her. Given some of the rudest but criminally funny dialogue, Ben's father Jerry Stiller is at his smarmiest as he gives his son advice on "booming" women. A depressing misfire, "The Heartbreak Kid" is going to break the Farrellys' fans' hearts. 

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