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Movie Review: The Heartbreak Kid

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Though it's opening weekend box office total was surprisingly low, it was no surprise that critics savaged The Heartbreak Kid. Of all the FarrellyBrothersmovies, only There's Something About Mary received good notices (the very funny and underrated Stuck on You and the weak Fever Pitch did okay). Comedies, of course, never get the critical respect that dramas do and vulgar comedies typically fare worst of all (with the notable exception of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen's recent work. Then again, who cares about reviews if a movie is funny, right?

And The Heartbreak Kid is funny...sometimes. Other times, you find yourself longing for the glory days of Ben Stiller and the Farrelly Brothers. Sure, they were as crude then as they are now, but gone (mostly) is the comic nimbleness and invention that leavened their early material. Also missing are the scene-stealing supporting actors that used to populate their movies. Stuck on You had Cher, Mary had Warren, Irene had Jim Carrey's sons. The Heartbreak Kid has Ned Holnes--not funny. In anything. To date. Say it with me.

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What goes a long way toward saving The Heartbreak Kid, though, are Malin Akerman and Michelle Monaghan. Akerman totally goes for it in the thankless role of Stiller's new wife who goes berserk once they're married. The only thing is, I ended up taking her side against the joyless Stiller. I didn't find her to be crazy so much as I found him to be sort of a dick. Plus, she's nekkid some. Monaghan helps soften his character somewhat, but that's due to her natural warmth as a performer. Unlikable characters are hard to pull off and Stiller's not up to it.

But again, people don't really care about the review for a comedy, do they? The only question that needs to be answered is, "Is it funny enough to see at the theater." I hedge towards saying 'yes'. There are several loud laughs and two scenes that are shocking enough to provoke gasps that quickly melt into laughter. As I mentioned above, Akerman and Monaghan do a fine job and Rob Corddry nets a few, solid laughs as Stiller's best friend. Jerry Stiller falls flat as Ben's horny dad (does anyone say, "crush pussy?"), but he's barely in it.

Of course, the movie's a bit of a mess. The Farrelly's go for jokes in the same way that Mel Brooks used to lungefor them in the 70s. The Heartbreak Kid even has a truly puzzling subplot about Stiller's transformation into an illegal alien that is so bizarre you can't help but laugh at how awful a transition it is. Still, the Farrellys have built up a lot of good will with audiences over the years (me included) so it's easy to forgive their missteps. The Heartbreak Kid is yet another indication of their decline, but it's probably worth an afternoon of your time.

Tickets & Showtimes

Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures