“The Heartbreak Kid”, the new comedy from the Farrelly Brothers (“There’s Something About Mary”) starring Ben Stiller is just a dreadful film.
Eddie Cantrow (Stiller), the owner of a sports supply store in San Francisco, decides to attend his ex-fiancée’s wedding. On Valentine’s Day. His dad (Jerry Stiller) tells him it is a bad idea and says they should go to Vegas together and tag team some women. As attractive as that sounds to Eddie, he decides to go to the wedding where his best friend Mac (Rob Cordry, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) rubs it in that he let the girl get away. On the way home, he meets Lila (Malin Akerman) and they start to date. Six weeks later, they are married and driving down to Cabo San Lucas for their honeymoon. During the road trip, Eddie begins to get the idea he may have made the wrong decision and moved too fast; Lila likes to sing along with the songs on the radio. Every song. And when they stop at a hotel to finally have sex, she is very aggressive, demanding that they have sex fast and hard. In Cabo, they meet “Uncle Tito” (Carlos Mencia), the hotel’s manager and a friend of Mac’s who sets them up with a beautiful suite. Lila is stubborn and determinedly puts on mineral oil, rather than suntan lotion and is quickly sunburned. As Eddie roams the grounds alone, he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan, the upcoming “Gone Baby Gone”) and they form a friendship. She is at the resort for her Aunt and Uncle’s (Polly Holiday and Stuart Wilson) anniversary, along with the rest of her wacky family from Mississippi. Naturally, Miranda doesn’t know Eddie is married, but he is also trying to break the news to Lila that he wants a divorce. Miranda’s family soon learns another secret about Eddie further complicating the situation.
Remember when the Farrelly Brothers used to make funny films? I know. It’s getting harder and harder for me as well. There are a few laughs throughout the film, but they are nowhere near as inventive, funny or outrageous as you would expect from these filmmakers. And the fact the film runs about two and a half hours long there aren’t enough laughs. It is also painful to sit and watch Ben Stiller wade through this mess.
Eddie has a history of letting women get away; his ex-fiancée left after a five-year engagement. So when Eddie agrees to attend the wedding, on Valentine’s Day, we should naturally expect some comedic moments. When he arrives, he is relegated to sitting with a bunch of kids, at the “Singles Table”. Two annoying twins start to pepper him with questions and insist he is single because he is gay. This is already the second gay joke of the film and it has only been playing for about ten minutes. Expect many gay jokes and references throughout.
He meets Lila and they have a whirlwind courtship. Naturally, because he has been so cautious in the past, this whirlwind romance is going to come back and bite him on the ass, maybe literally. He immediately begins to have misgivings. And he even has a right to; Lila is pretty annoying, pretty over the top and completely different from Eddie. When he suggests, during a frantic session of sex, they take a break and use the missionary position, she doesn’t know what he means. She only knows things like the Double Corkscrew Position and Eddie doesn’t like these positions, because they cause him pain. Later, we see him curled up in a fetal position, trying to get some sleep on a chair in the hotel room, as far away from Lila as possible.
This is amusing, but the problem is they make Lila unbearable too fast. After we get to this point, there is nowhere else to go and every time we learn something new, it is just more of the same. And they keep redoing the same types of jokes throughout. Lila keeps revealing things to Eddie that he didn’t know. We get it. The whirlwind romance didn’t give them time to find out all of these things ahead of time. Lila is aggressive. Har har. She doesn’t like vanilla sex and wants to do elaborate things and get slapped. So when she asks Eddie to hit her, the ‘joke’, as thin as it is, has worn off.
When Eddie meets Miranda there is an instant connection. And she introduces him to her family of wacky people. They’re from Mississippi, and based on the requirements of this type of comedy, they are going to be at least slightly off center. When he learns one of her cousins and his wife are a Subway franchisee that is supposed to be funny. But then they reveal their plans to expand and go ‘high class’; they are going to open a Red Robin. Har har.
When Miranda and Eddie break away for a day (the story goes to great pains to get Lila out of the picture), Miranda’s family goes on a day trip and learns a ‘horrible secret’ about Eddie. But of course, this is the made up story he told the twins at the wedding in the beginning of the film. How did Miranda’s family end up on a day trip with the twins from the beginning of the film, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico? Yes, I’m asking myself the same question.
One of the many problems with “The Heartbreak Kid” is that the comedy is so forced. Every comic situation takes a lot of set-up and really makes no sense. For something to be funny, it has to be at least semi-believable and at least seem natural. Nothing in “The Heartbreak Kid” satisfies either requirement.
Ben Stiller grunts and grimaces his way through the film. He is upset because Lila is so overbearing and aggressive. Then he is upset because he might lose Miranda. He grimaces when he finally learns Lila’s true self and every time she reveals something he didn’t know. He grimaces when Miranda’s family believes the wrong thing about him. My point is he isn’t funny.
Carlos Mencia, the host of a popular show on Comedy Central, has a supporting role as “Uncle Tito”. Mac gives Eddie a gift for Uncle Tito and he opens it when Eddie checks in to the hotel. This joke has so many ripe possibilities, but it also goes nowhere.
Throughout the film, Uncle Tito pops up and tries to help Eddie. But the role is just boring and also unfunny.
Jerry Stiller plays Eddie’s dad, Doc. He seems to be the one attempt by the Farrelly Brothers to inject some of the outrageous, bordering on cringe-inducing comedy they are known for. He talks about tag-teaming women with his son, “crushing” some female genitalia, and shows up in Vegas with a date. Aside from the Vegas bit, his scenes are more creepy than funny. Eddie is right to be put off by his dad’s suggestion that they have sex together with women in Vegas.
Malin Akerman has the most potential to be funny, but her character shows all of her funny traits very early. After that, we understand why Eddie is so annoyed by her because we are also very annoyed.
Michelle Monaghan, Miranda is basically the straight person in the film. She is the woman Eddie was looking for all along and is meant to be the polar opposite to Lila. She is attractive and it is easy to see why Eddie is attracted to her.
As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, the Farrelly Brothers throw in a sequence towards the end of the film, which is poorly set-up, conceived and seems more than a little racist in my opinion.
There is really only one of the trademark Farrelly Brothers shocking and gross moments. Lila sets it up early on and towards the end of the film, at about the beginning of the second hour, we get a glimpse of what she is talking about. Frankly, we have waited far too long for this brief moment and it doesn’t make the film any better.
“The Heartbreak Kid” is successful in only one way. It broke my heart to see the once great Farrelly Brothers perpetrating this trash on their fans.