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I had very low, “worst-of-the-year” expectations for the The Heartbreak Kid. To only reinforce my feelings, the movie starts with poor exposition, a sense of wandering within the first five minutes (no exaggeration), and a cheap joke about a gay wedding planner. Maybe it was just the low expectations, but even if these notions are sound, they don’t really matter. The first 15 or 20 minutes of any movie is pure set-up, and if it doesn’t work perfectly, that’s okay: there’s still another 80 to 100 minutes left of magic, which is what happens with this remake of the Charles Grodin classic. In a different tone, with different actors, and having even totally different plot developments, what we have is a brand new movie instead of a rehash (like most remakes today) that outranks the likes of Knocked Up and Superbad as the best comedy of the year.

The trailer has told you the basic story: Guy (Ben Stiller as Eddie) meets Girl (Malin Akerman as Lila), Guy marries Girl, Girl annoys Guy on honeymoon, and Guy meets his True Love (Michelle Monaghan as Miranda). The movie has a Meet the Parents tone to it, filled with awkward situations and moments of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly (Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary), The Heartbreak Kid displays the brothers’ love for slapstick and gross-out humor. At times, it feels like moments are just there to shock the audience, but we understand the Farrellys’ language, the way they “speak film,” and we can appreciate it.

As the movie continues, the story matures, even if the characters don’t. I can guarantee The Heartbreak Kid will grow on you, even if you’re not fond of it at first. After warming up to them, the performances drew me in like a sweet fragrance. Stiller is surprisingly good since he has annoyed me in every one of his roles since The Royal Tenenbaums. Monaghan is sweet and delicate as usual, but the way she plays Miranda looks so natural that the performance is a complete success. I’m not familiar with Akerman’s previous work, but in the role of Lila, she’s able to shift gears from normal to psycho to sympathetic to psycho again without seeming like she’s overacting. It’s quite a balancing act, actually.

Even though this movie has a different ending from the original, it still carries the same air of tragedy. We laugh, but the way the movie closes implies something very sad about Eddie, something cyclical and never-ending. Since this message is not as obvious as it is in the original, the movie leaves us with a smile nonetheless, and we walk out the theater beaming. The Heartbreak Kid isn’t the best of the Farrellys’ work (that honor goes to Kingpin), but there’s nothing wrong with second place.


One Comment

  1. I agree… Here are some more reviews I found!

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