The Heartbreak Kid
, 14 Oct 2007
At 40 Eddie Cantrow (Stiller) has never been ready to take the plunge and get married but when he meets Lila (Akerman) they get serious fast and to prevent her from being moved away for work they marry, only six weeks after meeting.
Once on their honeymoon Eddie is soon irritated by Lila and while she is locked in their room with a bad case of sunburn he meets Miranda (Monaghan), they hit it off and Eddie begins to think hes made a terrible mistake.
Okay so perhaps I didnt do it any favours by watching Theres Something About Mary for the umpteenth time the night before seeing it but by any standards The Heartbreak Kid is an abysmally bad film. The jokes, and I use the word extremely loosely, are so staggeringly bad that The Heartbreak Kid comes in as the second comedy in recent memory that has not managed to raise even the slightest of chuckles from me (the other one being the dreaded Date Movie).
The Heartbreak Kid shouldnt be this bad, its not as if theres not talented people involved. Ben Stiller did sterling work for the Farrellys in Mary, channelling his established persona into a true everyman performance that engaged you immediately with the character and the film. Here he seems bored and lost, trotting out the same stale performance hes given many times before. The easy way with the material is gone and Eddie, who is meant to be our point of identification, comes off as a truly nasty character. Were supposed to be rooting for him while hes running around with Michelle Monaghan, but cant, because hes just as one dimensional and irritating as she is.
Akerman, bless her, tries hard and shes a good sport about the abuse the Farrellys put her through but her character is hideously underwritten, turning on a dime from a dreamgirl to a shrew were supposed to hate. Again this doesnt work, we dont believe the character shift and while the film places all the blame for Lila and Eddies problems squarely on her we the audience are sat there thinking hold on
hes a dick, why isnt any of this his fault?
If Ive never previously held forth about my love of Michelle Monaghan let me now redress that. Shane Black turned up a real find when he cast her in the still underrated Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and though she had a terribly thin part as Tom Cruises arm candy in M:I:III she managed to make something of it. Here there is literally nothing to work that magic on. The Farrellys cant even come up with a new character so they essentially give Akermans character in the first half of the film brown hair and have Monaghan play her. Lazy doesnt even begin to describe this writing. Were meant to fall in love with Miranda, as Eddie does, but so vacant is she that even though Monaghan is cute as a button it just doesnt work.
Among the rest of the supporting cast Jerry Stiller and Daily Show alum Rob Corrdry do what they can with one-joke parts that drag on far too long but there is surely a special place in Hells comedy club reserved for Carlos Mencia. Mencias stereotypical performance as what appears to be the only member of staff at the resort where most of the film takes place suggests that he has discovered whatever the direct inverse of funny is and elected to do that. His catchphrase Screw off, Im joking is perhaps one of the least funny things ever captured at 24 frames per second and, lucky us; we get to enjoy it 4 times.
It beggars belief that the same men who were responsible not only for Theres Something About Mary but also Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin made this cinematic abortion. It shouldnt be challenging for them and yet every single set piece falls embarrassingly flat. It all comes back, though, to a dreadful screenplay. Its clear where the script wants our sympathies to fall but it is executed so badly that we end up on exactly the opposite side, particularly in the shockingly bad last reel when, clearly, we should be wanting Stiller and Monaghan to get it together and yet I cant have been the only one who thought the guy with the baseball bat was in the right.
The Heartbreak Kid is about as badly botched as I think it is possible for a comedy to be. The defining mark of quality for a comedy surely has to be the laugh count so let me just restate The Heartbreak Kids for the record
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