NPR logo 'The Heartbreak Kid'

'The Heartbreak Kid'

That's painful: Ben Stiller and Malin Akerman in The Heartbreak Kid. DreamWorks hide caption

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That's painful: Ben Stiller and Malin Akerman in The Heartbreak Kid.

DreamWorks
  • Director: The Farrelly Brothers
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Running Time: 115 minutes

I may be misremembering, but I seem to recall Elaine May's script for the original Heartbreak Kid — an amusing little 1972 romp through class differences and the wilds of ethnic assimilation — as being both funny and smart. It's hard to imagine anyone applying the word "smart" to the Farrelly Brothers' coarsely updated version.

It replaces ethnicity with regional stereotypes, and as for class ... well, it dispenses with class entirely. As vulgar as any of their previous outings, but without the heart that animated, say, There's Something About Mary, this story (of a man who falls for another woman while on his honeymoon) has been reduced to a slapsticky excuse for broad humiliation humor that makes nearly all its characters, including Ben Stiller's title character, unsympathetic.

Now that he has reached the far side of 40, it may be time for Stiller to find some variations in his put-upon-innocent act. It's wearing a trifle thin. As his clueless bride, Malin Akerman's chief virtue seems to be that she looks a bit like Cameron Diaz, and while Michelle Monaghan is attractive as the other woman, she doesn't have much to do.

Apart from establishing that the Brothers Farrelly regard the large-object-shoved-up-a-nostril gag as having limitless possibilities, it's hard to see the point of breaking new hearts with this story.

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