HEARTBREAK KID, THE - DVD review

...an unfunny mess that has me wondering if Bobby and Peter Farrelly have run out of jokes.

DeanWink

One would think the reteaming of the Farrelly brothers and Ben Stiller would be a highly entertaining endeavor that would rekindle the fun times that made both the Farrellys and Stiller a star with "There's Something About Mary." While the film's $37 million dollar domestic take would suggest it was not a complete flop, it was hardly the follow-up to "There's Something About Mary" that everybody had hoped it would be. With a poor 29% score on the infamous Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer signifying the critical drubbing received by the film, "The Heartbreak Kid" lacked the humor, heart and entertainment value of its predecessor. Perhaps the blame was on the lesser supporting cast of the film. It could have been the fact that "The Heartbreak Kid" was a remake of an earlier 1972 film and not an original story by Bobby and Peter Farrelly. It could have been one of many reasons for "The Heartbreak Kid's" shortcomings, but the simple fact is that "The Heartbreak Kid" failed to generate even half the laughs or excitement of "There's Something About Mary."

"The Heartbreak Kid" finds Ben Stiller starring as Eddie Cantrow. He has failed to secure a long-lasting relationship and is under heavy pressure from friends and family to settle down and marry. Eddie owns a sporting goods shop and has done well for himself. One day, Eddie has a chance encounter with the very lovely Lila (Malin Akerman) and after coaching from his father Doc (played by Ben's real life father Jerry Stiller), Eddie and Lila become engaged and quickly marry. They depart to Mexico for an expensive and romantic honeymoon. While on their honeymoon, Eddie starts to uncover some frightening truths about his new wife and realizes she is nowhere near the woman he had thought he married. To make his honeymoon even more nightmarish, he falls in love with Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) and starts to spend all of his time with her while leaving his badly sunburned newlywed wife in the hotel room. This leaves Eddie in a position where he must lie to Miranda and her family and find a way to get out of his marriage to Lila to be with the girl he truly wants to spend his life with.

"The Heartbreak Kid" is an attempt by the Farrelly brothers to be raunchier and cruder than "There's Something About Mary." They have casted an unknown in Malin Akerman who is not afraid to shed her clothing and take part in some very sultry sex scenes that Cameron Diaz would never consider. "Mary" had some old woman's leathery breasts and a shot of semen in Mary's hair. This movie trumps that with some of the most unsettling and unwatchable sex scenes you will ever see. I suppose this element was what the Farrelly brothers had hoped would be the big draw in the film, but it simply does not work. They resort to a few gross out moments involving Ben Stiller's character suffering physical pain and harm and Malin's character being the victim of the worst case of sun poisoning you can ever imagine. These again are moments of shock and not fit for laughter. We all laughed as hard as hell when Ben Stiller got his family jewels caught in a zipper, but we only feel bad for his character in this film.

The laughter itself falls flat in "The Heartbreak Kid." Bobby and Peter are known for their twisted sense of humor and that is amiss during most of this film. Carlos Mencia was thrown in to provide a little raunchy humor, but after the first joke or two, his character becomes an overly-sexed and tiresome bore. The painful discovery that Mila is not who she appeared to be was also meant to be funny, but it is more frightening than funny. Perhaps this is because Mila becomes the girl we men fear the most. There were one or two funny moments, but the directing brothers take every joke too far and wear it out. Mila's singing in the car is a perfect example of this. The final subplot that could have provided great laughs, but ultimately fails is when poor Eddie is stranded in Mexico without his passport and must travel with the illegal immigrants to cross the border. This could have been downright hilarious if done right, but somehow the Farrelly brothers screwed this up too.

I simply could not find "The Heartbreak Kid" funny or sexy. I'm not entirely sure of what the Farrelly brothers were truly trying to do with this movie. They have the talent to make a very funny movie and I would have thought that with Ben Stiller returning as their leading man they could have created something memorable. Malin Akerman gets her big break in this film, but her casting was more-than-likely due to her willingness to strip for the camera and subject herself to the worst sex scenes ever filmed. They weren't funny. They were disturbing. Stiller seems to be going through the movie in autopilot and one of the film's shortcomings is that his character is not very likeable. It is hard to laugh at a character where you have trouble feeling any sympathy for said character. The Farrelly's had an opportunity to match their earlier success of "There's Something About Mary," but the fumbled the ball and never recovered it. This was an unfunny mess that has me wondering if Bobby and Peter Farrelly have run out of jokes.

Video:

"The Heartbreak Kid" comes fully equipped with a good looking 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film is detailed and colorful and although it may not be the most entertaining experience, it sure looks good. The beautiful Mexican locations boast a colorful and vivid palette that exhibits solid saturation and contrast. The warm Mexican sun feels hot and looks quite natural. Detail is strong enough to feel the texture of the sandy beaches and feel offended by the horrible sunburn of poor Lila. Black levels were strong and shadow detail was good. The nighttime scenes never lost detail and I was more than pleased that no posterization was present. The source materials used for "The Heartbreak Kid" were also in very good order. I didn't see any specks of dirt or scratches and there was little to no film grain present through the film. I did notice a minor hint of edge enhancement during the brightest scenes, but it was never too distracting. All-in-all, this was a good looking film.

Audio:

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack provided for "The Heartbreak Kid" is warm sounding and affable. For a comedy, I felt the film had a strong presence in the surround channels and there was more bass than I had expected. Typically, comedies are front heavy and lack any great amount of surround or bass presence, but "The Heartbreak Kid" is an above average sounding comedy. I noticed a great deal of sound information coming from the rears and this was a good mix of ambient sounds and directional effects. The front channels did a solid job or providing a good mix of sound across the full spectrum. The musical selections used in the film sounded quite good, although Lila's singing was quite poor. Any film with classic Bruce Springsteen isn't all that bad. Dialogue was firmly anchored in the center and came across clean and sharp. "The Heartbreak Kid" may not be a good comedy, but it is one of the better sounding ones.

Extras:

Paramount and Dreamworks have provided a decent collection of extras for "The Heartbreak Kid." The largest and most important feature of the DVD is the Commentary by the Farrelly Brothers. I honestly expected a slightly more off-beat and humorous track from the directing duo, but this is a fairly serious and good commentary track that talks about the entire process of bringing "The Heartbreak Kid" to screen. There was a little too much back-patting towards Ben Stiller, but aside from that I thought they had a lot of good things to say and listening to sampled moments of the commentary track was never dull. I had initially intended to skip through each chapter and only listen to sections of the commentary, but found it interesting enough that I listened to almost all of it while typing up this review.

After the commentary, the bonus offerings are good in number, but short in length. The Farrelly Brothers. In the French Tradition (16:35) is a making of featurette that looks at the production of the film and features interviews with the two brothers and other members of the cast and crew, including Ben Stiller. I always imagine the Farrelly brothers as being younger. This was a nice little making-of feature that never gets too deep into any one subject, but presents a quick overview of the whole process. Ben & Jerry (4:59) finds the father and son team talking about working with each other and sharing a few laughs. This was the best feature of the disc. Heartbreak Halloween (3:24) finds Bobby Farrelly talking about their on-set Halloween party and showing some videos from the party. The Egg Toss (8:03) has Bobby talking about an egg toss that was done to help the cast and crew bond a little bit. This was an odd sort of supplement. A Gag Reel (4:00) is pretty standard fare and set to some Farrelly Brothers music. The six Deleted Scenes (7:27) are short and slightly entertaining. Finally, the Theatrical Trailer is thrown in to round out the extras.

Closing Comments:

"There's Something About Mary" is a comedy classic and I was expecting big things from the most recent pairing of the Farrelly Brothers and Ben Stiller. However, "The Heartbreak Kid" lacks the humor and heart of the earlier comedy and with only Stiller, it also lacks the starpower that helped propel the previous film to the heights it soared to. "The Heartbreak Kid" is far more disturbing than it is funny. There were a few funny moments, but they were too far and few between to allow the film to keep my interest for the full length. The DVD contained a very nice looking picture and one of the better sounding comedy soundtracks you'll ever witness. The bonus materials were decent enough, but the technical merits and added value of the disc is still not enough to earn my recommendation for "The Heartbreak Kid."

Ratings

Video
9
Audio
9
Extras
4
Film Value
4