It may not have seemed like a marriage made in heaven, but the coupling of the Farrelly brothers and Neil Simon, who wrote the original screenplay, seems to work in this reinvention of the 1972 comedy classic The Heartbreak Kid. The directing team’s trademark gross-out elements, of course, give the film an R rating this time around but allow the Farrellys greater rein in pushing boundaries. As we know, in their canon nothing succeeds like excess, and in this outing a prime example is a novel way of dealing with the aftermath of the effects of a persistent Portuguese man-of-war that attaches itself to Ben Stiller’s back. To say more would spoil the effect. Suffice it to say, bodily fluids are involved.
Stiller, reunited with the Farrellys for the first time since There’s Something About Mary, plays the eternally single and indecisive Eddie. When he begins dating the incredibly sexy and stunning Lila (played by newcomer Malin Akerman, very much in the Cameron Diaz mold), his fortunes appear to have changed. His father (played by Stiller’s father Jerry as a rapacious senior) urges him to marry, and he proposes to her after only a week-long whirlwind romance. All seems set for wedded bliss until the honeymoon in sunny Mexico, when masks begin to fall and Lila reveals her less endearing traits, including a rampant sexual appetite, bouts of snoring, a constant stream of inanities and a bad taste in music. Before long Eddie meets Miranda (played by Michelle Monaghan), who proves a revelation, and he falls head over heels while keeping his wife at a distance so he can court the new object of his affections.
The Farrellys are well-served by an energetic cast who enters into the spirit of the enterprise with unadulterated gusto. After the indignities foisted upon her in this role, Akerman will only find that things will get better. She displays a neat comedic talent that dovetails perfectly with Monaghan’s adorable rival. And Stiller has wonderful moments of inspired confusion that have echoes of a vintage Jerry Lewis. —Richard Mowe
Cast: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman, Jerry Stiller, Rob Corddry, Carlos Mencia, Scott Wilson and Danny McBride
Directors: Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly
Screenwriters: Scot Armstrong and Leslie Dixon and Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly & Kevin Barnett
Producers: Ted Field and Bradley Thomas
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: R for strong sexual content, crude humor, language and a scene of drug use involving a minor
Running time: 116 min.
Release date: October 5, 2007