The Heartbreak Kid Review

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Commitment-phobe Eddie (Stiller) decides to take the plunge with new girlfriend Lila (Akerman), but soon regrets it. Lila redefines ‘high maintenance’, and then he meets Miranda (Monaghan), the perfect girl...


After an uncertain drift towards the merely revolting in Stuck On You and Shallow Hal, the Farrellys have now decided to reclaim their heartland: outright gross. The lurid film in question is this marginal but entertaining (and seriously mucky) remake of a 1972 Neil Simon farce, which actually feels more like a reworking of There’s Something About Mary’s romantic travails.

To the Farrellys’ skewed and somewhat reductive worldview, people are divided into perfect specimens, mental cases, or Ben Stiller doing that neurotic toady act he shuffles out every other film. Their new-old set-up, running a razor-edge of potential misogyny but getting away with it, has Stiller’s Eddie marry a closet nutjob and then fall for a gorgeous paragon of womanhood. No mean accomplishment on your honeymoon. Thus, as ever, they are having it both ways: fuzzy-hearted romance and boner gags.

The main pleasure is in the ribald jolt of their crudity. The Farrellys see no gain in smoothly building gags rather than laying great lumps of vulgarity in the road like sleeping policemen. And it is picture-perfect blonde Malin Akerman who bears the brunt of the outrage. In fact, she’s more-or-less a walking punchline: the newlywed harridan sunburnt to a scarlet frazzle, screaming, “Fuck me like a black man!” to her petrified husband and, let’s just say, landing in the midst of an unfortunate urination scenario. So game is Akerman that we don’t completely lose sympathy for her as we should, and when she slips from the screen, to allow Stiller
to woo Monaghan, the film loses much of its oomph.

The usual familiar Farellyisms crop up: the kooky family (Stiller is guided by his potty-mouthed pop, played with slippery charm by his real dad, Jerry Stiller), the sun-soaked location (Mexico) and the jingly-jangly chorus (in this case a band of idiot mariachis specialising in mistimed serenading). But the brothers are not cooking on gas; too often this feels like formula. And having knotted itself into an intriguing seaside farce, events fizzle out horribly. Can enough knob gags get you off the hook of actually not caring?

For all its fluffed moments and saggy end, how many other films this year feature a donkey with an erection?