‘Heartbreak Kid’

Everybody loves to humiliate Ben Stiller. From “There’s Something About Mary” to “Meet the Parents” (and its almost-equal sequel, “Meet the Fockers”), watching Stiller squirm generally means major yuks.

In “The Heartbreak Kid,” however, the yuks turn to yuck. And the humiliation comes from Stiller’s struggle to break free of a strained, lame-brain comedy that pulls him down like super-sucker quicksand.

Technically, “The Heartbreak Kid” is a remake of the scathing 1972 satire scripted by comedy machine Neil Simon (from a story by Bruce Jay Friedman) and directed, with even more ferocious wit, by Elaine May.

That “Heartbreak Kid” made wicked observations about human nature — especially the awful truth that we often want things (or people) we can’t have, only to discover we don’t want them once we get them.

This “Heartbreak Kid,” by contrast, would rather concentrate on gross-out slapstick.

That’s to be expected, of course, with Farrelly brothers Peter and Bobby calling the shots.

Once the kings of R-rated comedy, thanks to such outrageous hits as “Dumb and Dumber” and Stiller’s “There’s Something About Mary,” the Farrellys have ceded their comedy crown in recent years to the reigning monarch of cinematic raunch, “Knocked Up’s” Judd Apatow.

And while Apatow sneaks in appealing sweetness to balance his rude ‘n’ lewd comedy, the Farrellys seem happy keeping things down and dirty.

That makes it tough for them to recover when “Heartbreak Kid” wants to give its characters a happy ending. Not that the characters deserve it, but the Farrellys seem to think the audience does — whether it makes sense or not.

When the original “Heartbreak Kid” debuted a quarter-century ago, a movie that made sense was enough to make audiences happy. But never mind. The folks behind this update certainly don’t.

Both versions of “Heartbreak Kid” employ the same premise: a not-so-happily newlywed falls for another woman. On his honeymoon.

In the original, the nebbishy title character (played by Charles Grodin) dumps his achingly awkward bride (Jeanne Berlin, May’s daughter), a nice Jewish girl, for a blond goddess (Cybill Shepherd) from the Midwest.

This time around, Eddie (Stiller) marries the blond goddess, Lila (Malin Akerman), following a whirlwind courtship — in part to stop his mouthy father (Jerry Stiller, Ben’s real-life father) from browbeating him about how little “action” he’s getting at 40.

So what if Eddie and Lila, an environmental researcher, don’t know everything there is to know about each other? They’ll find out soon enough.

That’s the problem, as Eddie discovers during the long, long, looooong drive from their hometown of San Francisco to their honeymoon destination: beautiful, beachy Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Once there, Eddie’s problems mount. Especially when Lila suffers a five-alarm sunburn that confines her to the honeymoon suite — and frees Eddie to wander around the hotel, where he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a winsome Mississippi miss vacationing with her family. Never mind that Eddie’s already got a wife, stashed upstairs in the bridal suite, who’s plagued by more peeling than a boatload of bananas.

After all, “the heart wants what it wants,” Eddie says, quoting Woody Allen. (If you’re going to quote Allen, why not choose a line that’s actually funny?)

With five credited screenwriters — Scot Armstrong (Stiller’s “Starsky & Hutch”), Leslie Dixon (“Hairspray”), Kevin Barnett (TV’s “Unhitched”) and the directors — “The Heartbreak Kid” labors to transform a satirical premise into one suitable for an in-your-face raunchfest.

For such an approach to work, however, the characters need to be total cartoons. (A few of them are, especially comedian Carlos Mencia as a hotel clerk who makes the Frito Bandito look like a model of multicultural enlightenment.)

When it comes to the central characters, however, “The Heartbreak Kid” wants us to like these people, without giving us any reason to do so.

Akerman’s clearly meant to be this movie’s version of Cameron Diaz’s character in “There’s Something About Mary,” combining bombshell sex appeal with wacky humor, but Akerman’s much better at conveying Lila’s desperation than her sparkle. Even so, she’s more compelling than the likable but lightweight Monaghan.

As for Stiller, we’re meant to share his every humiliation in his never-ending quest for true love. But it’s tough to empathize with a guy who’s so selfish and willful — in a movie that keeps insisting he’s the good guy. As a result, we cringe at him far more often than we cringe with him.

And if that’s not a formula for cinematic heartbreak, I don’t know what is.

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing