‘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.

This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
Cirque’s One Night for One Drop gets ready for the big night
Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” performed a dress rehearsal for the annual benefit show. This year’s show at Mandalay Bay is based on the life of singer-songwriter Jewel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Kosher Experience provides kosher foods to Las Vegas families
2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas at The Smith Center
Ten touring productions are on The Smith Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas season schedule. (The Smith Center)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like