October 15, 2007

The Seven-Day Itch

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In 1998, the Farrelly Brothers and Ben Stiller hit a home run with their milestone film There’s Something About Mary and set the bar for comedy films to strive for. Nine years later, they reunite to try and top themselves, but this time, instead of a home run they fall flat on their face. The Heartbreak Kid stars Ben Stiller as Eddie Cantrow, a 40 year-old single guy who, when it comes to the thought of marriage, thinks the whole idea is “so permanent.” After attending his ex-fiancee’s wedding, his father Doc (Jerry Stiller) and best friend Mac (Rob Corddry) advise him to bite the bullet and “take the plunge.” Eddie finally meets Lila (Malin Ackerman) and it’s love at first sight. Their love blossoms and as soon as we know it they’re married and honeymooning in Cabo. However, Eddie begins to rethink his decision, as Lila is an off-the-wall crazy straight out of Looney Tunes, when he runs into Miranda (Michelle Monaghan).

Perhaps the Farrelly Brothers and Ben Stiller should have delayed their reunion, as The Heartbreak Kid didn’t deliver nearly as much laughter and heart as Mary did. From the start, Ben Stiller seemed awkward and uncomfortable in the role. He’s surrounded by a supporting cast that looked like they could pick up the slack, but overacted instead. In the style of the Farrelly Brothers’ films, they tend to foster grotesque humor and usually it works. However in this case a comic great like Jerry Stiller was spoon-fed a bunch of sick lines to say and was neither believable nor amusing delivering them. I was hoping Rob Corddry’s commentary on the side would do some justice, but it was just repetitive.

With the hype surrounding this movie and the cast, I expected to be rolling on the floor laughing with my sides splitting just like the first time I saw There’s Something About Mary, but I didn’t. This movie was a real let-down in terms of the comedic potential that was not taken advantage of. I’d have to say it’s a rarity in most movies, but the funniest scenes in this one were the sex scenes. They rocked the boat and made me laugh with material that was on par with that of Mary. One scene, involving Malin Ackerman and Ben Stiller looks to top the infamous Cameron Diaz hair gel scene.

I thought I wouldn’t have to see Carlos Mencia’s very unfunny face again. However, he takes on a supporting role as one of the locals of the Cabo resort. He plays a stereotypical Mexican and adds to the culture clash Stiller endures on his honeymoon. Aside from the general overacting, the Farrelly Brothers seemed like they tried too hard in their writing. They were being crude for the sake of being crude out of their desperation for laughs. Heartbreak is repetitive both in its squeamish, distasteful jokes and storyline. These childish jokes intertwined in the typical politics of love that Ben Stiller is always caught in the web of seemed like déjà vu and just unsuccessful in the big picture. I know it’s a comedy, but being realistic, it was a little irritating that everything just so happened to fall into place so conveniently like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. The majority of audiences probably don’t know that this is a remake from Neil Simon’s 1972 screenplay. The Farrellys have had great success in comedy other than Mary, with Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin, but their type of humor was a bad match to remake something that the great Neil Simon has penned for the screen. Here it was not a match made in heaven.

The Heartbreak Kid lacks laughs and an overall care for the characters. When Eddie falls on hard times, we don’t feel a connection to him reconciling as personally I was more concerned with looking at my watch so I could figure out how much longer I was going to have sit in a boring comedy.

I did mention that there are the occasional funny scenes. Most people will probably watch the movie with a smirk on their face, amused at all the quick cheap laughs the Farrellys dish out. Or perhaps to the sticklers, that smirk will be worn in anticipation of the hilarity to come, but diminishes as they realize this isn’t one of the Farrellys’ better movies. I’d say this is a step up from Shallow Hal, but all things being equal, I should have gone to see Michael Clayton.