movie film review | chris tookey

Heartbreak Kid

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  Heartbreak Kid Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
7.50 /10
Eddie Cantrow - Ben Stiller, Miranda - Michelle Monaghan
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Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Written by: Scot Armstrong, Leslie Dixon, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Kevin Barnett, based on the screenplay by Neil Simon, inspired by a story by Bruce Jay Friedman

Released: 2007
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 116

Ben Stillerís career might charitably be described as chequered, but The Heartbreak Kid finds him back in harness with the Farrelly Brothers. They directed him in one of his most successful movies, Thereís Something About Mary; his new picture is one of his funniest efforts. Itís also one of the few comedy remakes to improve upon the original.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Stiller (pictured left) plays Eddie Cantrow, a 40 year-old sporting goods salesman who hasnít found the right girl. Under pressure from his foul-mouthed, embarrassingly libidinous father (played by Ben Stillerís real-life dad, Jerry), he is starting to feel foolish about still being single. At the start, thereís a hilarious sequence where Eddie encounters serial humiliations at the wedding of an ex-fiancee. And thereís a wonderfully funny-sad character in Eddieís henpecked best friend (Rob Corddry) whose recipe for a successful marriage is to ďplaster on a smile and wait patiently for the sweet embrace of deathĒ.

So Eddie is ready for romance when he meets gorgeous blonde Lila (Malin Akerman, pictured right) who looks like Cameron Diaz. A few weeks later, theyíve rushed impulsively into marriage and are driving to Mexico for their honeymoon. On the way, Eddie starts to realise that Lila has a sordid past and numerous idiosyncrasies, none of them attractive. And the aggressive way she goes about sex is a bit frightening for steady Eddie. When a spectacular case of sunburn confines Lila to the hotel bedroom, Eddie encounters a sporty brunette (Michelle Monaghan from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), whom Eddie realises miserably is just his type.

So how do you go about seducing the woman you love while on honeymoon with the woman you hate? Thatís the central question, and it gives rise to some richly comic situations.

The main way the new film is superior to the old one (which starred Charles Grodin falling for Cybill Shepherd in 1972) is that the audience genuinely feels for Eddie as he sinks deeper into a morass of duplicity, disaster and humiliation. Thereís no one better than Stiller at being a hapless schmuck. It lay behind his success in the popular Meet The Parents and the less profitable but even funnier Flirting With Disaster.

The 1972 Heartbreak Kid was much more of a racial, religious and class comedy. It showed a Jewish man ditching a whining Jewish wife in favour of an upmarket, WASPy blonde; its biggest problem was that the leading man wasnít sympathetic, and the whole thing came across (even though it was written by the celebrated Jewish writer Neil Simon) as more than faintly anti-semitic. Since the new version is by the Farrellys, itís a lot raunchier but warmer, and loses the social overtones altogether.

One warning. The film is not for the easily shocked. There is an explicit sex scene, and two sight-gags about bestiality might have earned it an 18 certificate. All the same, itís one of the better comedies of 2007, third only to Knocked Up and Music & Lyrics in the number of laughs it generates.

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