Directed by: Bobby Farrelly/Peter Farrelly
Written by: Bobby Farrelly/Peter Farrelly
Starring: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman, Jerry Stiller, Carlos Mencia
Released: 2007 / Genre: Comedy / Country: USA / IMDB
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If you liked this film check out: Kingpin, Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary
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I wouldn’t begin to entertain the idea the team of Farrelly and Farrelly needed a hit: they’ve given us some of the finest slapstick comedies of the 1990s, but The Heartbreak Kid arrives at time when the Farrelly product has lost some of its shine.
Give the comedy writer-director-producer duo some credit. They helped launch the careers of Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller, released one of the most successful comedies of the 1990s in There’s Something About Mary, and one of the decade’s finest in Dumb and Dumber. But their brand of humour, based on the most simple and obvious elements of social and cultural dysfunction was wearing thin even before the 90s came to an end. If Me, Myself and Irene’s split-personality Jim Carrey could be forgiven because it held at its core an endearing romantic relationship thanks to Renee Zellweger’s love interest, it was ultimately, a Carrey cash-in. When the Farrelly’s moved their funny-bone yardstick to obesity in Shallow Hal the offensive comedy became simply offensive.
It’s unfortunate that the Farrelly’s, sensing a demise of their product, went into sentimental overdrive with the abysmal Fever Pitch, so it comes as some relief that The Heartbreak Kid is a return to Ben Stiller and a return to the offensively funny.
That’s not to say the film is a complete success. The final fifteen minutes feels like it was formed from a rushed script that didn’t know where it was heading, played out by actors who didn’t have a clue either. There’s also an uncomfortable jolt from the second act to the third where characters disappear and, I’d guess, scenes too. Perhaps, in rushing the film through its final stages to hit release date, the Farrelly’s forgot about story arc in favour of a leaner runtime.
Yet, The Heartbreak Kid has it moments of comedy frivolity and Ben Stiller holds it all together with an assured hand. Stiller, who plays Eddie (your everyman who can’t find love) makes the mistake of marrying Malin Akerman’s Lila before he’s had the chance to really get to know her. On the honeymoon he finds out he’s made a terrible mistake. His mistake is made worse by a chance meeting with beautiful sports teacher Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), who he quickly falls head over heels in love with.
As soon as Eddie and Lila get hitched the pace picks up and doesn’t let up until the final quarter. There’s some typical Farrelly moments such as Eddie’s porn movie mix-up, Lila’s penchant for angry sex, and her extreme sunburn. I particularly liked the scene with the couple singing in the car that sees Lila’s transformation from pretty, nubile blonde to infuriating sociopath.
The Farrelly’s balance overt humour with some subtle moments. When Eddie meets Miranda his banter with her family provides the film a charming quality that makes Eddie and Miranda’s relationship more authentic.
The Heartbreak Kid isn’t so much a return to form as a return to what they do best. Even if Shallow Hal and Stuck On You were second rate products of the Farrelly brand they were a lot more digestible than the over-sweetened love story Fever Pitch. In The Heartbreak Kid the Farrelly’s stick to what they know – slapstick toilet humour and social dysfunction. Even if they don’t achieve the dizzy heights of their early films at least they’re making us laugh again.
Review by Daniel Stephens – See all reviews here