2007-10-19 / Columnists


'The Heartbreak Kid' - Broken
Review By Robert Snyder

The old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," certainly applies to the remake of the 1972 comedy classic, "The Heartbreak Kid."

Script by Neil Simon from a Bruce Jay Friedman short story, the original was incisively directed under the helm of Elaine May. The lead was Lenny, played to smarmy perfection by Charles Grodin as the Jewish groom who lusts after a WASP princess (Cybill Shepherd) on his honeymoon. His religiously correct bride (Jeannie Berlin, May's daughter) is left to pine away in sunburn pain in the hotel room. The actions of Lenny created genuine heartbreak along with loads of laughs.

The new "Kid" has no soul. Directed and co-written by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, it's another exercise in "raunch in roll" from the guys who helped invent the modern gross-out movie ("There's Something About Mary"). Reunited with "Mary" star Ben Stiller, the brothers have the heartbreaker in "Kid" now called Eddie rather than Lenny, without any reference to his ethnicity. Eddie Cantrow (Stiller) is merely the confirmed bachelor/ owner of an sporting goods store in San Francisco, whose father Doc (Jerry Stiller, Ben's real-life dad) and best friend Mac (Rob Corddry) egg him into marriage with pretty Lila (Malin Akerman).

In a flip on the first film, the bride appears to be WASP princess perfection. Before long, however, her irritating quirkiness surfaces in the form of obnoxious, unrelenting car radio singalongs, bizarre sex ("What's the missionary position?") and a leaky-cocainecreated deviated septum.

Arriving in Cabo, Mexico, for the honeymoon, Eddie is more than ready to jump ship. His heartstrings pull him over the deck when he meets Southern belle sweetie Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), single and vacationing with her extended family.

While Lila does the sunburn routine in the hotel room, Eddie goes into a pathological lying mode in his courtship of Miranda. Along the way, we are treated to more Farrelly sicko-sight gags involving burro-bestiality, jellyfish sting urination, untrimmed pubic hair and nostril ingress-egress.

The funniest bits are Eddie's illegal immigrant attempts to reenter the United States after enraged Lila burns his passport and credit cards. It shows that the brothers are capable of eliciting laughs, without undue ugliness (they did it in the soulful "Shallow Hal").

"The Heartbreak Kid," Farrelly-style, is not for the faint of heart or sensibility. For those reared on raunch, it brings home the bacon, or barf. Fans of the far funnier and insightful original should find the DVD and watch an unbroken, uncorrupted classic.

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