The Farrelly brothers, Peter and Bobby, make comedies. Some of them, like “Dumb & Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary,” are funny. Some of them, like “Kingpin” and “Fever Pitch,” are only so-so; and others, like “Osmosis Jones” and “Shallow Hal,” are outright duds. Count 2007’s “The Heartbreak Kid” among the duds. Well, at least the movie is a dud; the video quality of this Blu-ray edition is outstanding. Small compensation.
The Farrellys have always had a playful mean streak in them, and they have often worked physical or mental disabilities into their films: stupid people, obese people, mentally challenged people, one-handed people, sick people. But in their adaptation of the 1972 Neil Simon-Elaine May movie of the same title, they seem just plain malicious.
Let me give you the setup first. Ben Stiller plays a forty-year-old confirmed bachelor, Eddie Cantrow. He owns a sporting goods store in San Francisco, and he seems content. However, no one around him is content about his being unattached, including his father (played by Ben Stiller’s real-life father, Jerry Stiller). When Eddie goes to his ex-fiancee’s wedding, practically everybody there ridicules him for still being single.
Then he meets a pretty blonde, Lila (Malin Akerman), who sweeps him off his feet. After a whirlwind courtship, he marries her, and on their honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, the trouble starts. Eddie realizes too late that he doesn’t really know her. Among other things, she talks and sings constantly, she won’t shut up, she’s a lot more aggressive than he realized, and she has any number of distasteful secrets that he just now finds out. She is, in fact, pretty obnoxious, and he begins to have his doubts about having married her.
That’s when he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a young woman visiting Cabo with her family, and he falls in love with her. So, that’s the premise: What do you do when on your honeymoon you realize you’ve made a huge mistake in marrying the wrong person and simultaneously find the real girl of your dreams?
What seemed humorous and daring thirty-odd years ago in Neil Simon’s screenplay seems merely cruel in the Farrellys’ rewritten account. What we get here is a new wife who’s an idiot and a new husband who’s a cad, a liar, and an idiot.
The Farrellys’ fill “The Heartbreak Kid” with crude language, crude jokes, and crude sex, little of which is even faintly amusing. The gags are often of the slapstick variety, especially the ones that portray Lila as a klutz. OK, I did find myself giggling briefly at one salacious scene where Eddie’s dad is in a hot tub in Vegas with a woman of prodigious breast size. But the rest of the film is almost painfully unfunny.
The misunderstandings that follow the film’s setup are sometimes genuinely unbearable to watch, and the movie only gets worse as it goes along. I found it largely gross, mean-spirited, frustrating, and ugly.
Final note: When DreamWorks released “The Heartbreak Kid” to theaters, it carried an R rating for “strong sexual content, crude humor and language.” Here on Blu-ray, it continues with an R rating, yet we also find the following message preceding the movie: “This film has been modified from its original theatrical version. It has been edited for content.” Make of that what you will.
It’s hard to find fault with the dual-layer BD50, 1080p, MPEG4/AVC transfer. Indeed, it’s so good it tends to reinforce my axiom that the worse the movie, the better the video quality. The transfer retains the movie’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and the movie’s robust colors. Indeed, the colors are so bright and vivid, they fairly pop off the screen, which is perhaps a bit too much of a good thing because they are brighter and more vivid than real life. I suppose the colors are appropriate, though, for a comedy that exaggerates life the way this one does. Definition is good, skin tones are natural, clarity is exceptional, and black levels are deep. Interior detailing is also good, and from a normal viewing distance the picture looks downright gorgeous.
The English track’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sounds fine, given that it has virtually nothing to do but reproduce dialogue and some fragments of forgettable background music. It handles the job nicely, with overkill the order of the day.
The Blu-ray disc contains the usual assortment of extras, some of them even having to do with the movie. The first thing up is an audio commentary by the film’s directors, the Farrelly brothers. They’re surprisingly serious; somehow, I expected them to be joking through the whole commentary. Next is a series of four featurettes. The first is “The Farrelly Brothers in the French Tradition,” about sixteen minutes long, providing a little history of the brothers in filmmaking. Second is “Ben & Jerry,” five minutes about the Stillers, father and son, working together. Third is “Heartbreak Halloween,” three minutes about a Halloween party the cast and crew had on the set. And fourth is “The Egg Toss,” eight minutes about the egg tosses on the set. Then there’s a gag reel, four minutes, and six deleted scenes, about seven-and-a-half minutes. All of these items are in standard definition.
Things conclude with sixteen scene selections and bookmarks; a high-def theatrical trailer; a guide to elapsed time; English, French, and Spanish spoken languages; English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.
If this new Farrelly brothers version of Neil Simon’s “The Heartbreak Kid” does anything good, it may be to send viewers out looking for the original 1972 movie. That one wasn’t the height of comedic genius, but at least it wasn’t as joyless as this depressingly downbeat remake.