Review: “The Heartbreak Kid”

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In the past 10 years, American movie-watchers have become well acquainted with Ben Stiller comedies and the affable, impulsive characters he often portrays. From “There’s Something About Mary” to “Meet the Parents,” the formula has remained relatively unchanged: allow the audience to develop a genuine liking for Stiller’s character, and then let the hilarity ensue. Stiller’s latest movie, “The Heartbreak Kid” (DreamWorks) does not stray from very far from this blueprint. Yet, what “Heartbreak Kid” lacks in freshness, it more than makes up for in absurdity.

In the movie, Eddie (Stiller) meets the apparently flawless Lila (Malin Akerman – “The Brothers Solomon,” “Entourage”) and proposes after only six weeks of dating. As the two newlyweds honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Eddie begins to take notice of Lila’s awkward and irksome idiosyncrasies. When Eddie meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) in Cabo, he realizes his heart is with Miranda, not his irritating wife, Lila. Eddie’s real challenge lies in pursuing his dream girl while figuring out how to ditch his oblivious wife.

For the first time since “There’s Something About Mary,” Stiller is reunited with directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly (“Dumb & Dumber,” “Shallow Hal” and “Fever Pitch”), and the trio picks up right where it left off.

“We had a really great time making “Mary” with Ben and we’ve kind of been meaning to get back together with him for a long time,” director Peter Farrelly said in a phone interview with The Hatchet. “This just seemed right up his alley. I would say this movie is more like “Mary” than anything we’ve done since,” said Farrelly.

Part of what makes Heartbreak Kid so reminiscent of “Mary” and, frankly, even more enjoyable, is the Farrelly’s insistence on situational outrageousness. Many scenes take advantage of Stiller’s character’s ineptitude at dealing with unexpected circumstances, especially sexual ones. Of course, viewers have seen this routine before in “Mary” and “Meet the Parents,” but “Heartbreak Kid” accounts for this by keeping the laughs constant and clever.

“I think it’s sort of groundbreaking and that, you know, there really hasn’t been a sex comedy like this. And we have outright nudity and very, very, very funny stuff happening with nude people which you don’t see a lot,” Farrely said.

By the end of the movie, viewers have been exposed to such utter hilarity that they can forgive the Farrelly’s for reverting to the typical Stiller formula.

And this is not to say that Stiller’s performance is bad or overly redundant, by any means. Viewers will certainly appreciate Stiller’s ability to accurately portray the emotions of someone who’s gotten in way over his head. In fact, Stiller puts on a fairly outstanding performance by situational comedy standards. The viewer does get the sense, however, that they’ve been there before, and this slightly takes away from the experience.

Movie-goers intending to see “Heartbreak Kid” can expect a lot of sexual humor and nudity, perhaps more than any movie released in 2007. “This one is different because we’ve gone into the area of sexual comedy,” said Bobby Farrelly. “We’ve always done comedy, of course, but here it’s like it’s very R rated and it’s about sex. It’s very sexual and there’s a lot to laugh about, [especially] about people having sex,” said Bobby Farrelly.

Overall, the sexual comedy hits its mark, and adds an aspect of silliness to an already amusing film. In the end, “Heartbreak Kid” provides lots of laughter and entertainment – a combination that makes the movie an ultimately worthwhile experience.

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