Saturday, February 16, 2019

Movie Reviews: The Heartbreak Kid

The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
This was a remake of an early seventies film. It's a dark romantic comedy. The film has some low rent humor, typical for the Farrelly Brothers. 

Unlike most genre films this movie didn't shy away from making at least two of the people in the love triangle somewhat unlikable. YMMV on this but it's essential to the story. This movie reverses the usual "..and then they lived happily ever after" motif  to investigate what happens after two people meet and fall in love. It's a different challenge/question. 

It's easy to fall in love with someone when they are clean, sharp dressed, and shaking their tail feathers. It's more difficult to stay in love and accept someone else's occasional bad moods, unpleasant biological functions and chronic irritating habits that could drive even the most patient spouse into sputtering incoherent rage. The first is infatuation. It may not last that long. The second is real love, but usually takes more time to develop.

Eddie (Ben Stiller) is a San Francisco sports shop owner. Eddie is lonely but afraid of settling down and getting married. His married friends treat Eddie with pity and contempt. Eddie's widower father Doc (Jerry Stiller-Ben Stiller's father) is a playboy. 

As with many older relatives, Doc has jettisoned any sense of politesse regarding his son's private life. 

When Eddie muses that settling down with one woman would be giving up on all of the millions of other women he might meet, a choleric Doc retorts that Eddie hasn't gotten anywhere with any of the very few women he has met. Beggars shouldn't be choosers.

Atypically Eddie intervenes in the mugging of an extroverted attractive blonde woman, Lila (Malin Ackerman). The two become an item. After just six weeks Eddie thinks Lila is the one. When Lila's job requires an overseas transfer, Eddie impulsively decides to marry Lila, thus allowing her to stay stateside and keep her job. The newlyweds go on a Mexican honeymoon. But Eddie discovers that he has less in common with Lila than he thought. The duo don't enjoy many of the same activities. 

Eddie can't stand Lila's voice when she sings along to music on the radio.  Eddie is repulsed by some dodgy incidents in Lila's past. Lila's sex drive is far higher and more adventurous than Eddie's. In the bedroom, Lila says, wants, and demands things Eddie doesn't like. Eddie thinks marrying Lila was a mistake. But Lila seems happy.

Hiding from Lila, Eddie (who significantly is not wearing a wedding ring) meets a single woman named Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) who is in Mexico with her extended family to witness her aunt and uncle renew their wedding vows. Eddie and Miranda hit it off. Eddie looks for any excuse to hang out with Miranda and her family.

Scheming to drop Lila, Eddie doesn't correct incorrect impressions Miranda and her family have about his marital status. Miranda's relatives warm up to Eddie with the notable exception of her cousin Martin (Danny McBride), who exudes the same suspicious possessive confrontational male energy around Miranda that a husband would show around his wife. Although Martin's attitude looks like sexual jealousy, it's not. Miranda recently dumped Martin's best friend. Martin immediately dislikes Eddie. 

This movie is an extended Three's Company comedy of errors, misunderstandings, and jokes taken literally. The film infrequently noted something touching about the absurdity and necessity of love, desire, and commitment. There is some gross slapstick. Stiller is convincing as a man who is in equal measure sympathetic and contemptible. His lies and omissions pile up but you will laugh at him and with him simultaneously. 

Do Lila's habits make her a bad wife? Is Eddie just immature and selfish? I leaned towards the latter view. Carlos Mencia is a stereotypical Mexican resort owner; Rob Corddry is Eddie's married best friend who tries to sell Eddie on the virtues of marital bliss. The film references previous films and stories on stereotypical Jewish nerdiness, cynicism, and urbanity contrasted with gentile openness, naivete, and religiosity.

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