Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

Year 2, Day 43 - 2/12/10 - Movie #408

BEFORE: So far we've seen the right people fall in love at the right time, and then the wrong people fall in love at the right time - so what about the right people falling in love at the wrong time? I've sort of stumbled into a couple movies about new relationships dealing with exes, so I'm going to run with it.

THE PLOT: A newlywed man who believes he's just gotten hitched to the perfect woman encounters another lady on his honeymoon.

AFTER: It's the story of a man who meets the girl of his dreams and gets married - but unfortunately those things don't happen in that order.

This movie sort of reinforces my point about actors who know their strengths, and tend to play the same sort of character again and again, because they're good at it. Ben Stiller's character here is similar to his roles in "There's Something About Mary" and "Flirting With Disaster", sort of a likable everyman who doesn't have everything about relationships figured out yet, but he's trying. And we the audience want him to succeed. And Jerry Stiller plays Ben Stiller's father, which is a role that seems like a very good fit for him...

This is based on a Neil Simon play, and I admit I've never seen the original movie with Charles Grodin, but I gather this is a re-worked version, since it's directed by the Farrelly Brothers (who also directed "There's Something About Mary").

The plot is sort of an exaggeration of a phenomenon that happens with many relationships - when two people start dating, they tend to focus on all the things they have in common, which reinforces the belief that they're "perfect" for each other. However, over time, we know that two people can start to annoy each other, and people who are looking to separate tend to focus on their differences, as justification for splitting up.

Stiller's character Eddie, after attending an ex-girlfriend's wedding, meets an attractive lady, Lila, while trying to stop a man who's stolen her purse. After a short 6-week relationship, a miscommunication (and the encouragement of his father and best friend) convince him to propose. He's focused on their similarities, and ignores their differences, and also neglects to ask about her background.

It's on the honeymoon that her quirky habits start to annoy him - like singing along with terrible songs on the car radio, plus she seems to be into some real freaky sex stuff. She's also immature, combative, and has a lot of baggage - the emotional kind, not the luggage she packed for the honeymoon resort. But it's at the resort that Eddie meets another girl, Miranda, who seems to be his perfect match.

Now, destiny is a tricky thing - can two people be perfect for each other, or do people make their own destiny by sticking with the people they like? Is Eddie's attraction to Miranda genuine, or does the grass just seem to be greener on the other side of the fence? Is his dissatisfaction with Lila causing the attraction to Lila, or is it the other way around? (Discuss amongst yourselves...)

No matter how you slice it, going on a date with one woman while on a honeymoon with another is pretty low. Eddie does pay a price for his deceptions, but it would have been nice if he had actually learned something along the way - no, the filmmakers chose to go for cheap jokes in the end instead.

Also starring Malin Akerman (last seen in "Watchmen"), Michelle Monaghan (last seen in "Mission: Impossible III"), Danny McBride (last seen in "Tropic Thunder"), Rob Corddry (last seen in...ummm..."Harold and Kumar 2"?) and Carlos Mencia.

RATING: 5 out of 10 sombreros


  1. Speaking of relationships, Ben Stiller and I have had that terribly awkward "Maybe we should just take a break from each other for a while" conversation. He didn't see it coming but I knew that it was the only thing to do. I used to like his work, but now I'm desperate to see him in a movie where he's not doing his Ben Stiller impersonation.

    The original movie was pretty awful. It's regarded as a minor classic, somehow. I think it's emblematic of the sort of movie that can only seem brilliant by a contemporary audience. If you've never owned a tie wider than 4", it plays like a cheap, hollow, smug tantrum about how Society has it in for you, man.

    It also has the problem of starring Charles Grodin, which I can best summarize thusly: it stars Charles Grodin. I don't know what it is about his attitude or his delivery or his hangdog expression. If it could be bottled and patented, drug companies could sell it as an effective treatment against the horrible disorder of not wanting to pound Charles Grodin in the face with a steel shovel.

  2. Despite his presence in some of the worst films of all time (Sunburn, Ishtar), I don't have such a violent reaction to Charles Grodin - I watched him in "The Lonely Guy" this week and didn't have too much of a problem with him...

    I guess I cut him a lot of slack because of his work in "Midnight Run", one of the funniest movies ever. And I tend to ignore most of his other films...

    I've still got some Ben Stiller films on the list - I'm waiting for "Night at the Museum 2" and I'm also willing to give "Zoolander" a tumble. Then I think we're done.