Two Farrellys plus two Stillers equal comedy gold in ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ |

Two Farrellys plus two Stillers equal comedy gold in ‘The Heartbreak Kid’

Howie Nave
Zade Rosenthal / Paramount Pictures / Ben Stiller, left, and Malin Akerman star in "The Heartbreak Kid."

Remember those old sayings, “Good things happen when you least expect it” or “When it rains, it pours”? What if you believed that love really had, in fact, passed you up and that you would pretty much take the very next person that comes along? Well, would you? Of course that means the right one comes along, but now you’re stuck with the choices you made.

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because noted playwright Neil Simon penned the screenplay (from an original story by Bruce James Friedman) back in 1972 called “The Heartbreak Kid,” starring Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd.

This updated remake by the Farrelly brothers is actually more a retooling, if you will, than a remake … and strictly a vehicle for Ben Stiller, who is the main lead here.

As with every Farrelly brothers movie, you can expect loads of comedy, even if a bit crude at times. OK — lots of crudeness. One need only to remember their other “classics,” including “Dumb and Dumber” or “There’s Something About Mary” (which also starred Stiller), to be reminded that the filmmakers know what to expect from their legion of fans.

Stiller plays Eddie Cantow, a San Francisco-based sporting goods owner whose biological clock is ticking, having hit 40, and who realizes he may have missed the love boat (literally). As if that weren’t enough, Eddie is getting pressure from his father (played by real-life father Jerry Stiller) and non-stop verbal pressure from his best bud (Rob Corddry) all because of his being a bachelor. Well, as luck would have it, he does in fact meet a cutie named Lila (Malin Akerman) and being reminded he probably won’t find any better marries her after a brief courtship.

You know how it can take years to truly discover someone’s weird idiosyncrasies but tolerate them because you’re in love with that person and can overlook that? Try discovering them in the first few hours after marrying someone whom you don’t really love after all. Oh, to have the mannerisms of this woman really drained my senses — I don’t care how hot she is. And this is where directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly ply their off-beat comedic trade so well. Let’s just say you won’t be able to look at one’s nose the same again after seeing this movie.

As the honeymoon takes place south of the border, Eddie has a chance encounter that will change his situation in one way, yet make it more complicated in another. As his new bride recovers from getting a wee bit burned and is laid up, Eddie has an opportunity to, shall we say, meet the right woman? Oh, you can already see what is happening. Sure, you’ll be feeling bad for the wrong woman, because they just got hitched, but when you find your soul mate (in this case Miranda, played by Michelle Monaghan), isn’t it better to cut your losses? Thank goodness more embarrassing comedy ensues.

I found myself not just cracking up but have a newfound admiration for comic legend Jerry Stiller. It’s pretty obvious that many of his lines were improvised, which was smart of the directors to leave in, and also because, Ben being his real son, you wonder at times if the two Stillers had these chats in real life.

— Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including Sirius Radio. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews on RSN.

Keepin’ it reel:

Now Playing: “The Heartbreak Kid”

Starring: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Jerry Stiller, Malin Akerman, Carlos Mencia, Rob Corddry, Stephanie Courtney, Ali Hillis, Kathy Lamkin, Nicol Paone and Joel Bryant

Directed by: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

Rated: R for strong sexual content, crude humor and language

Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes

Howie gives it: 4 out of 5 bagels

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