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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.75%
Worth A Look: 15.79%
Average: 19.3%
Pretty Bad38.6%
Total Crap: 24.56%

6 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Heartbreak Kid, The (2007)
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by Erik Childress

"The Honeymoon with the Farrellys Is Over"
2 stars

Just ten years ago, the Farrelly Bros were the pre-eminent comedy team making films in America. They filled the void left by the Zucker/Abrahams laugh-a-minute template with Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin and the penultimate There’s Something About Mary in 1998. From American Pie on way down, anyone who tried to up the ante with gross-out humor and outrageous situations was looked down upon as pale imitators trying to top the brothers without the requisite skills, timing or underlying sweetness. While I still look fondly upon Me, Myself & Irene, Shallow Hal and even Stuck On You, the box office totals were dwindling and it was apparent that they were slowly doing away with the outrageousness and focusing more on plot and character. Not a bad idea, but as their adaptation of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch taught us, skills and timing are important in any genre. But when somebody drops the ball, thankfully someone is waiting around the corner to pick it up. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell got the ball rolling and the repetoire of Judd Apatow have scored over and over again with the trio of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad, which is as, if not more, impressive than the Farrelly’s initial trifecta. Let’s hope that with the seemingly endless array of projects Apatow’s people have lined up that they never resort to repeating themselves with something as frequently unfunny as The Heartbreak Kid.

Based on the Neil Simon screenplay from 30 years ago, the Farrelly’s have again cast Ben Stiller as their lovelorn hero, Eddie Cantrow, a guy approaching forty who owns a sporting goods store and has never been married. His father (Jerry Stiller) is more upset that Eddie hasn’t taken full advantage of his bachelor lifestyle and his best friend (Rob Corddry) is the kind of overdramatized pussy-whipped husband that would scare anyone away from nuptials. Fate strikes him one down as he tries to intervene in the mugging of the pretty Lila (Malin Akerman). They have a moment, she seeks him out and they begin a six-week courtship consisting of seemingly nothing but making out before she tells him that she is being asked to do scientific research in Holland. Since they don’t send married people over there, Eddie sees only one solution.

En route to their honeymoon in Cabo, he immediately begins to see signs of trouble. Starting with just annoyances like shooting liquid through her nose and singing along to any song that plays on the radio, she’s a violent dynamo in bed, owes money to drug dealers and is more a volunteer than a career woman. Suffering a vision sunburn, Lila confines herself to the room leaving Eddie free to wander the resort when he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a woman who clearly possesses all the personality attributes (as well as the superficial ones) that any man would instantly be smitten with. Clearly Eddie knows he has made a mistake and must find a way to make the switch without either woman finding out about the other.

Every guy has been in that position, haven’t we? It’s our own Sleepless in Seattle fantasy of finding “the one.” After all, it’s only misoygny if we’re the only party committing the wrongs, right? Eddie is doing just that though and for The Heartbreak Kid to succeed on its premise, at some point we have to empathize with him just as we did with his Mary character who had to keep insisting he wasn’t a stalker. And we knew it. He was just a guy hopelessly in love. There’s no love lost though on the stupid. I mean who goes to their ex’s wedding on Valentine’s Day especially when its made clear at the wedding that there is no lasting friendship between them if evident by the toasts alone? That’s just bad writing. Even worse is establishing a six-week partnership between Eddie and Lila and believing that none of these little quirks or job queries would come up? Sure, she may not fart (or worse) in front of you but by the third date at least you’d know if she was a good listener or an annoying pain-in-the-ass. Hell, you find out more about people on their profiles.

It makes the first 25 minutes of The Heartbreak Kid a real slog through a setup that’s hard for us to accept. Once Lila’s traits begin to take effect there are a few really big laughs involving some sexual calastenics that rival Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls and Stiller’s natural comic ability to challenge another on the inconsistencies of their language skills. But the major laughs come right on top of each other and the smaller ones you must claw yourself towards through a painfully unfunny Carlos Mencia as a resort worker and Danny McBride (who was very funny in Hot Rod and the 2006 Sundance selection, The Foot Fist Way) as Miranda’s overly protective cousin that the Farrelly’s never broach the obviously subversive sexual tension between them. Aside from a line involving “the devil’s lettuce”, the character’s behavior never approaches funny and becomes an unwanted and exceedingly violent distraction from which the film has no chance of recovery.

Kevin Smith tells a funny story about how the studio censors nixed a scene he had written for Mallrats involving some Silent Bob fluid and a girl’s hair. Three years later and Hello Mary! The Farrelly’s earlier films were at least consistent in their outrageousness to where we could actually believe the unbelievable misfortune happening to characters whom we always cared about. When Eddie is attacked by a jellyfish and the inevitable solution is given a front-and-center, there’s a strong reek of desperation that the film needed one more big gag before sincerely gagging us with the awful final act. Desperate further since their extreme close-up of the healing point is a bleached version of a direct parody from the first Scary Movie. Since The 40 Year-Old Virgin only told us about the “show” why not put it into visuals during one of their joke-after-joke courtship montages? The joke this time is on the Farrellys in that Kevin Smith beat them to it this time in Clerks II.

If There’s Something About Mary’s “R”-rating proved anything it’s that raunch works best when you commit to it thoroughly. Otherwise it’s just shock value material like Jerry Stiller’s verbalized pussy-stylings. When the characters in Superbad can’t stop talking about sex or using the F-word, their consistency removes the shock and becomes part of them as people. The arrested development of the twenty-and-thirty year-olds of The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up is on a level pathetic, but we get to know their fears and dreams. We don’t know what kind of a guy Eddie is. Maybe he’s like the son of another Jerry Stiller character and just unable to commit. Has he been screwed over countless times by women. What is the screenplay making of him? Nothing. For a film so quick for its characters to pop the question, it never pops it’s own on what it’s trying to say about marriage, selfish men or controlling women. Of course that’s something we’d expect more from a Neil Simon/Elaine May comedy (like the 1972 original) than the Farrelly’s who have now become the pale imitation of the Judd Apatow family.

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originally posted: 10/05/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

6/07/09 art TOO LOW-BROW FOR MY TASTE! 1 stars
3/26/09 Anonymous. most of the jokes were misses..:P 2 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Fell asleep to this one. 2 stars
4/23/08 Jack Sommersby Admittedly entertaining and quite colorful and breezy. 3 stars
2/01/08 Bonny This was an okay movie, alittle funny and alittle stupid. 3 stars
2/01/08 mike Hilarious stuff! I loved this. Lighten up people! 5 stars
12/31/07 john doe Exactly what I expected: a raucous comedy romp aimed at the college age male- spot on! 4 stars
12/31/07 Jeff Anderson Relentlessly mean-spirited, unfunny & just embarrassing to watch! THE FARRELLY BROS. WORST! 1 stars
12/18/07 Thomas Pacheco Funny remake could have been better still worth the watch 3 stars
12/13/07 William Goss Neil Simon never needed a merkin - or Mencia - to make great comedy. 3 stars
11/30/07 Allison Lafferty Ben Stiller back on form reminiscent of TSAM. But unfortunately this story resolves nothing 3 stars
10/28/07 Brian Mckay Same kind of shit Stiller's been doing for years, but funnier that it had a right to be. 4 stars
10/22/07 Jamie Crass, Crude, unfunny, boring, disturbing 1 stars
10/18/07 Brad An Ok film..but I'm glad to see the Farellys return to the R rating! 2 stars
10/14/07 Marc imbecilic ugly fratBOY flaming turd on the doorstep WASTE of celluloid! 1 stars
10/11/07 Betsy Hendrick This is a hidious, unwatchable snore. 1 stars
10/10/07 D If I had to choose between seeing Norbit or this for a 2nd time, i'd have to think about it 1 stars
10/08/07 Private Poor pacing, overlong, forced and unfunny 2 stars
10/07/07 Matt Craven Fuck the Farrelly's, fuck Ben Stiller, and FUCK "Carlos Mencia" 1 stars
10/07/07 jazz Time to pack a lunch, Farrelly's... 1 stars
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  05-Oct-2007 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2007



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