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Heartbreak Kid, The

Dreamworks // R // December 16, 2008
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted December 12, 2008 | E-mail the Author
Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) isn't
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exactly the type to settle down. Oh, it's not that he lives it up like it's Playboy After Dark, boozing it up with strippers and barely-legal co-eds or anything, but Eddie's so reluctant to bite the bullet and get married that he seeks out just about any excuse to shove the women in his life to the sidelines. I mean, while rattling off the list of reasons why he broke it off with his fiancée of five long years, Eddie says it's a dealbreaker that she said she hated Caddyshack because the gopher looked too fake. He catches a lot of flak for being so non-committal -- and not even taking advantage of the whole bachelor thing -- by his his horndog pop (Jerry Stiller) and his married pal Mac (Rob Corddry), so when he meets-cute with foxy twentysomething Lila (Malin Akerman), Eddie tosses out his usual playbook. They've only been dating about a month and a half when Lila drops a bombshell: the company she works for wants to ship her out to Rotterdam. Since the firm doesn't transfer married couples and seeing as how Eddie has a pretty thing going, he...:sniffles!:...proposes.

Whoops. Before they've even finished driving down to Cabo San Lucas for their honeymoon, Eddie starts to clue in how little he actually knows about Lila, from untamed pubic hair to a violent, voracious sexual appetite to a deviated septum that sends damn near everything she puts in her mouth spewing out of her nostrils. Sure, he tries not to nitpick every last flaw, but it dawns on Eddie just how mismatched they are when he meets up with Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), the way too cool girl-next-door type in town for a family reunion. They hit it off instantly, but Eddie's stuck trying to worm his away around the fact that he's falling for another woman while he's on his honeymoon, so...y'know, hilarity ensues.

Or, at least, hilarity's supposed to ensue, what with this being a comedy and everything. I'll admit that The Heartbreak Kid hooked me in at first -- Rob Corddry playing a miserable married man with a fake smile plastered across his balding mug, Eddie's stammering awkwardness around Lila as he fumbles with a pair of her panties in his sporting goods store, and really, just about every scene with Lila as they stumble their way down to Mexico. I hadn't really heard of Malin Akerman up until The Heartbreak Kid breezed into theaters, but this is the sort of balls-out, completely fearless performance that'd make her a household name...if the flick hadn't keeled over at the box office, I mean. Akerman may be the drop-dead gorgeous starlet type, but she completely embraces all of the gonzo, hyperrepulsive angles to her character, yet Lila always comes back with some hopelessly sweet scene where you can see why Eddie is so reluctant to completely give her the boot. She's like an incontinent Yorkshire Terrier dribbling a trail of piss from one end of the house to the other -- you kind of wanna kick her outside, but....ooooooh, she's just so gosh-darn adorable!

The Heartbreak Kid is
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almost a completely different movie once Michelle Monaghan strolls in as Bachelorette #2. With Lila shut up in their hotel room, only popping up for another quick gross-out comedy scene every ten or fifteen minutes, Ben Stiller steps away from playing the straight man in favor of something out of a more traditional romantic comedy. I liked the scenes with Miranda and her family -- everyone has a heckuva lot of chemistry together, and Ben Stiller plays off each and every one of 'em really well. So much of this stretch of the movie is cute and endearing, but funny...? Not so much. The laughs are pretty much all in the first 45 minutes or so.

The Farrellys have been wading around in the PG-13 waters for a while, and their return to an R-rated comedy isn't exactly seamless. They don't shy away from the more crass stuff, but a lot of it's just witless vulgarity, rarely spinning off into an actual joke. I mean, think of Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary's money shot; just the idea of cum-in-the-hair in and of itself isn't all that funny, but it's what the Ferrellys did with that from there that scored such a huge laugh. Here, there's just a setup and no punchline. Eddie's 77 year old dad rambles endlessly about "crushing pussy" and how "bitches be crazy", and he soaks in a hot tub with an aging, overinflated porn star. That's all there is to a lot of these jokes -- lame dialogue or some random situation that doesn't really go anywhere -- and it flops and flounders. Even Lila's saddled with a lot of that as the movie goes on, like when she, uh, helps Eddie out with the old home remedy for a jellyfish sting. The gross-out is all there is to the gag. While I'm griping about The Heartbreak Kid's uneven, kind of anemic sense of humor, it's also worth mentioning that the comedic void of Carlos Mencia is on the payroll as Uncle Tito, and...'nuff said there.

I was really sucked in by The Heartbreak Kid at first, and the Farrelly Brothers have lined up just about a perfect cast. Clocking in right at two hours, the movie's just too long and doesn't serve up nearly as many laughs as it ought to, and the Farrellys aren't back on steady footing with the whole R-rated comedy thing. A remake of a classic like Neil Simon's The Heartbreak Kid really shouldn't be this forgettable. Rent It.

Oh, and this Blu-ray disc opens by noting that the movie has been edited for content. I know for sure that one of the extra snippets of footage that played over the end credits theatrically -- a payoff to Eddie's chat with Lila about his bunkmate in camp -- has been yanked out. Whether or not that's the only difference, I'm not 100% sure.

The Farrellys gush in the disc's audio
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commentary about how The Heartbreak Kid is their most beautifully photographed film yet, but...nah, it doesn't exactly sparkle in high-def. The scope photography is kinda soft and more coarsely grainy than usual for a studio comedy not all that long out of theaters. Its palette has kind of an overcast look to it in the Bay Area, although things are much brighter and more vividly saturated when The Heartbreak Kid lugs its cameras south of the border. It's probably worth a mention that the image quality holds up better than average under low light, and there aren't any flecks of dust or hiccups scattered around this high bitrate AVC encode. This Blu-ray disc never slips any further back than alright, and some of the close-ups and medium shots of the cast really do look great, but The Heartbreak Kid still lurches a notch or two below average.

The Heartbreak Kid piles on a 24-bit Dolby TrueHD track, but it's still a standard issue comedy mix -- just about everything is anchored across the front channels, with the subwoofer disinterestedly twiddling its low-frequency thumbs and the surround channels reserved solely for light ambiance and to reinforce the music. At least the movie sports a pretty solid soundtrack, heavy on vintage Bowie and belting out a couple of songs by The Flaming Lips while it's at it. Still, the technical end of the audio is awfully bland, with neither the music, the recording of the dialogue, or the barely-there sound effects packing all that much of a presence. Kinda mediocre.

Dreamworks has also tacked on Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish along with subtitle streams in English (traditional and SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

The only high-def extra this time around is The Heartbreak Kid's theatrical trailer.

Rather than just
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tossing together your usual overly promotional making-of EPK, The Heartbreak Kid's featurettes almost entirely revolve around the cast and crew, particularly the camaraderie on the set. The first half of "The Farrelly Brothers in the French Tradition" (17 min.) swirls around a bunch of the directors' botched business ventures and how they stumbled into the industry. As the two of 'em chat about their writing process and their loose, freeform directorial style, the kinda general discussion starts to relate more and more to The Heartbreak Kid specifically, marking their return to the whole R-rated comedy thing. The disc's other featurettes include "Ben and Jerry", a five minute piece on the two Stillers playing father and son on and off-screen, a quick peek at the Halloween party on the set (including a shot of the Farrellys directing while dolled up like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance), and, um, eight minutes' worth of the proper strategy to pull off a convincing win in the cast-'n-crew's egg toss battles.

The rest of the extras are all pretty standard stuff. The Farrelly Brothers chime in with an audio commentary, spending a good bit of time running through the music scattered throughout the film, distinguishing their remake from Neil Simon's darkly comedic original, pointing out the many, many background parts they auctioned off for charity, and discussing the delicate balancing act in not making Lila overly adorable or too easy to just shove out on her ass. Some of the other topics include a quick use of CGI in the "Operation" scene, the lack of a proper French word for "queef", the collaborative environment at Dreamworks (including one plot point suggested by Steven Spielberg), and gabbing about how the first assembly for Dumb and Dumber was screened at nearly four hours (!) in length. This being a Farrelly commentary and all, it kinda goes without saying that they spend way, way, way too much time pointing out their friends and family in the background and noting who on the crew had worked on their other flicks. I thought the whole thing was kind of dry, but it's alright leaving running in the background.

So...what else? A four minute gag reel piles on the usual clowning around, flubbed lines, and snipped improvs. Rounding out the extras are six deleted scenes, running right around seven and a half minutes in total. There's nothing all that great in there, and the only particularly memorable bit is Miranda's ex from back home dropping in while she's in Cabo. For whatever reason, the unused sea lion brawl that the Farrellys mention in the movie's audio commentary isn't anywhere on here.

Tucked inside the case is an offer to save ten bucks if you've already snagged The Heartbreak Kid on DVD.

The Final Word
Everything about this Blu-ray release of The Heartbreak Kid is just alright -- its smattering of extras, the technical presentation, all the way down to...yup, the movie itself. Watchable but completely forgettable, The Heartbreak Kid coasts too much on the charms of its cast, and the Farrelly Brothers have spent so much time away from the R-rated comedy game that a lot of the movie's vulgarity feels forced and heavy-handed instead of...y'know, funny. Yeah, Malin Akerman is dynamite in it -- The Heartbreak Kid would've been a breakthrough role for her if anyone had actually seen it -- and Michelle Monaghan is as instantly likeable as ever, but nothing about the movie or its release on Blu-ray amounts to anything more than a rental. Rent It.
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