Sibling directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly used to make gross out comedies that were as witty as they were guilt inducing. With their remake of the Neil Simon and Elaine May’s 1972 film ‘The Heartbreak Kid,’ the duo are merely icky. Whereas ‘Kingpin’ and ‘There’s Something About Mary’ demonstrated that body function humor had no frontiers, their new effort will make you beg for the Farrellys to grow up.The misbegotten remake stars Ben Stiller as Eddie, a sporting goods store owner whose father (Stiller’s real-life dad, Jerry) and his best friend (Rob Corddry) continually nag him about his seemingly confirmed bachelorhood.
The commitment-phobic Eddie begins to think the two of them are on to something when he meets Lila (Malin Akerman, “Harold and Kumar Got to White Castle”). The young woman seems likable and committed to worthy causes like environmental preservation. Despite having only known her for six weeks, Eddie decides to walk down the aisle with her.
As the two head south for a Mexican honeymoon, Eddie discovers that he may have made a mistake as colossal as Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia in winter. Lila has a series of bizarre health problems and consistently poor judgment. She’s unrepentant about her past cocaine addiction, which has left her massively in debt but has no means to pay off her creditors.
While Eddie is brooding over his bleak future, he discovers the friendly and vibrant Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), who’s as fun and endearing as Lila is flaky.
Eddie’s quest for love would have been more engaging if Stiller and the Farrellys had portrayed him as something other than a thoughtless doofus.
The audience constantly feels as if they are ahead of Eddie, anticipating each disaster he eventually faces. It feels strangely comforting that Eddie is unable to find his true love. Viewers quickly sense that he has little to offer and that most of his misfortunes are his own fault.
In their previous movies, the Farrellys have successfully balanced their obsession with body functions with flashes of genuine wit and a strange affection for their protagonists. They also created memorable villains like Matt Dillon’s skuzzy private eye in “There’s Something About Mary,” who were as entertaining as they were repellent.
With “The Heartbreak Kid,” the duo are coasting down a stream of excretions. A series of gags involving Lila’s fondness of sadomasochism are more annoying than amusing. The Farrellys fail to find enough sympathy with Lila to make her more than the butt of deviated septum (don’t ask) or sunburn jokes.
The underlying misogyny that runs throughout “The Heartbreak Kid” makes the it feel less like a movie and more like a frat party gone wrong. There’s a sense that the Farrellys believe that nothing good can ever come of falling in love.
The brothers also find time to perpetuate stereotypes of white American southerners and Mexicans. Whereas Mel Brooks in his prime took an equal opportunity approach to offensiveness, which made his rude humor charming, the Farrellys approach comes from an irritating mental laziness instead of egalitarian wit. Carlos Mencia’s turn as a Mexican bartender is crude but not terribly engaging. You get a sense the brothers think Mexico isn’t worth visiting or taking seriously.What’s most appalling about “The Heartbreak Kid” is that the Farrellys have even slacked off on their trade specialty: human discharges. The duo aren’t doing anything here they haven’t done before and with more finesse. Face it: If you’ve seen one deviated septum gag, you’ve seen them all.