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The Heartbreak Kid DVD Review

The Heartbreak Kid (2007) movie poster The Heartbreak Kid

Theatrical Release: October 5, 2007 / Running Time: 115 Minutes / Rating: R

Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly

Cast: Ben Stiller (Eddie Cantrow), Malin Akerman (Lila), Michelle Monaghan (Miranda), Jerry Stiller (Doc), Rob Corddry (Mac), Carlos Mencia (Uncle Tito), Scott Wilson (Boo), Danny McBride (Martin), Stephanie Courtney (Gayla), Polly Holliday (Beryl), Roy Jenkins (Buzz), Amy Sloan (Deborah), Johnny Sneed (Cal), Jerry Sherman (Grandpa Anderson), Lauren Bowles (Tammy), Nicholas Kromka and Michael Kromka (12 Year Old Twins), Eva Longoria (Consuela - uncredited)

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There's Something About Mary was the film that changed Ben Stiller from a familiar face into a leading man of comedy. In the nine years since that R-rated blockbuster was in theaters, Stiller has been keeping very busy, headlining as many five major movies a year and making as many cameos as anyone in his so-called Frat Pack. Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the brothers who wrote, produced, and directed Mary have also found steady work, churning out a new flick roughly every other year and most in the PG-13 domain that Stiller usually calls home. It was kind of surprising, then, that Stiller and the Farrellys hadn't collaborated on anything since their shared triumph.

The inevitable reunion came this year, however, with R-rated The Heartbreak Kid, a loose remake of the 1972 Neil Simon-penned film starring Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd. 2007 finds the actor and helmers at divergent levels of showbiz status.
Stiller has repeatedly struck box office gold in appealing cost-effective projects like Meet the Parents and Dodgeball. The siblings, on the other hand, have failed to recreate the sensational reception given Mary and their earlier hit Dumb and Dumber; the earnings of their recent films (Stuck on You, Fever Pitch) give their careers a definite downward slope even when critics have remained gently approving.

Stiller or not, The Heartbreak Kid contributes to the Farrellys' decline with moviegoers, its tepid $37 million intake representing one of the lower grosses among the actor's top-billed films released this decade. Strangely, in stark contrast to recent output like the star-studded Night at the Museum, Stiller is surrounded by a cast of unknowns here. With nary a fellow Frat Packer in sight, Heartbreak's most recognizable support may be Stiller's real-life father Jerry, best known to modern audiences for his curmudgeonly roles on long-running sitcoms ("Seinfeld", "The King of Queens").

Forty-year-old bachelor Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) is relegated to the kids' table with fellow singles at his ex's Valentine's Day wedding. Things look up for Eddie after he meets the funny, pretty Lila (Malin Akerman).

Though his hair has gone silver, Stiller hasn't remotely lost his touch as a leading man who holds our sympathy in comedies of errors and embarrassment. This is what he's asked to do in Heartbreak Kid, though the film tests our compassion by hedging on the premise of a newly-married man looking elsewhere for love on his honeymoon. With appropriate manipulation and Stiller's talent, it nearly pulls it off.

The film starts off strongly, with Stiller's character, sporting goods storeowner Eddie Cantrow leaping out of his long period of bachelorhood with a seemingly perfect woman -- young, pretty, friendly Lila (Malin Akerman). After just six weeks of dating, Eddie agrees to marry Lila, mostly to keep her from moving to Europe for her environment research work. The moment the wedding's done, Eddie discovers a variety of turn-offs regarding his new bride: she has bad musical tastes, has no income at all, is very strange in bed, and was recently a cocaine addict. Not much is realistic about the revelations, which turn Lila from sweet to nightmare in no time flat. Stiller merely has to look uncomfortable, something he's made a career out of, while his wife looks and sounds stupid via extreme sunburn, deviated septum-spawned nose spills, and unprintable sex-clamations.

On their disastrous honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Eddie encounters Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a woman who's there for a reunion/vacation with her big, warm southern family. While Lila is back in the lush hotel room treating her burns, Eddie is hitting it off with Miranda, conveniently forgetting to mention he's just tied the knot. Less of a love triangle than you'd suspect, the film follows Eddie through plenty of mishaps and misunderstandings, as he's got to choose between the woman who keeps promising to be part of his life for "the next 40-50 years" and one who seems to possess all of Lila's pre-wedding traits without any of her nuttiness.

After just six weeks of courting, Eddie and Lila tie the knot on a scenic island wedding. On the honeymoon, Eddie bonds not with Lila, but with Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a woman vacationing with her family.

The Heartbreak Kid offers an okay time, progressively getting worse as it moves further with the tricky task of having an unfaithful newlywed hold our support. Stiller serves the film very well, getting a number of laughs by reacting to awkward situations and remaining likable enough even when getting close to the not especially appealing Miranda. The movie proves itself to be funny in a number of places, its high energy and handful of humorous exchanges taking it far.
Far is where the Farrelly Brothers go with the freedom of an R-rating, indulging in foul language and coarse comedy with reasonable success, but -- as usual -- crossing lines of good taste a few times.

Former "Daily Show" correspondent Rob Corddry makes the most of his role as the obligatory best friend, a henpecked husband who scores big laughs and further certifies Corddry's flair for big screen comedy. Playing Eddie's horny father, Jerry Stiller is spirited and appropriately vulgar, if not the scene-stealer intended. Comedy Central stand-up Carlos Mencia, who isn't easy to recognize behind silly hair and mustache, does okay in the flashy role of hotel connection "Uncle Tito." As for the leading ladies, one feels sorry for Malin Akerman having to endure her thankless role of terrible person and gross-out subject (though she doesn't hold back), while the amiable Michelle Monaghan doesn't do enough to sell her love interest as the best route to a perhaps unattainable happy ending.

If definitely not ranking among the career bests of Stiller (or even the Farrellys), Heartbreak still delivers a moderately diverting experience. Critics were disapproving and audiences were disinterested. Their reactions were not unmerited; at close to two hours, the film overstays its welcome a little. Though fast-paced and generally upbeat, it holds too many false resets for the relationships. Some detours, like a semi-amusing thread on Eddie's attempts to re-enter the country as an illegal immigrant, don't advance the plot quickly. Other edits, regarding the passing of time or the establishing of facts, make for odd uncertainties. The jumpy plot mix and ideological faults do weaken the whole.

Eddie's best friend (Rob Corddry) and father (Jerry Stiller) may not give the best advice, but they do provide the film with humor. Ben Stiller has looked better than here, scruffy after various attempts to sneak past America's borders.

Nevertheless, while the Shepherd/Grodin original need not worry about getting bumped from AFI's 100 Best Comedies list to make way for this, the remake roughly comes out even when inspired moments and missteps are tallied. Like the majority of the star and writer-directors' output, that makes this worth a viewing.

Registering as one of the fastest jumps to home video since Surviving Christmas, The Heartbreak Kid arrives on DVD and HD DVD on December 26th, shy of three months since its theatrical opening and strategically timed to tempt new gift card owners. Both the DVD case and a note before playback reveal: "This Film Has Been Modified From Its Original Version. It Has Been Edited for Content." If IMDb's "Crazy Credits" section for the film is accurate, then we can be sure that one of the end credits epilogues involving a young camp bunkmate snorting cocaine has been cut. Having not seen the film in theaters, I can't say whether anything else is missing, but no reason is given for the alteration. At least the studio is being forthright about the change, which if truly singular, is minor and curious.

Buy The Heartbreak Kid (Widescreen Edition) on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Video Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 26, 2007
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $29.99)
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Black Keepcase with side snaps
Also available in Reformatted Fullscreen DVD
and on Blu-ray

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Heartbreak Kid looks and sounds great in this 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. As usual, a fullscreen edition is sold separately, but seeing as how in this reproduction of the theatrical dimension, the film offers visuals that are both wider and nicer than expected, you'd be paying far too high a price to lose the black bars. Typical for a Farrellys flick, the vibrant picture is complemented by a musically active soundtrack, which includes a number of fine songs from David Bowie.

Bobby Farrelly, half of the filmmaking team, talks about the filmmaking processes of him and his brother in the audio commentary and this featurette, "The Farrelly Bros. in the French Tradition." Rather than ice cream, the Stillers' Ben and Jerry produce laughter. "Heartbreak Halloween" shows how the production was livened up by a day of costumes inspired by the likes of "Flashdance" and "Teen Wolf."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

A considerable slate of extras begins with an audio commentary from writer-directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly. The brothers are easy to listen to, even as they push the bounds of screen-specificity by pointing out every extra's name and every non-speaking part that was auctioned off for charity. They also make note of each song, adding to the feel that this is as much a fact-gathering experience
as it is an earnest discussion. Still, they do open up on their creative processes and, though often trailing off to talk of their other films, shed light on decisions that shaped Heartbreak's production.

The next lengthiest bonus, "The Farrelly Bros. in the French Tradition" (16:35) does a good job of profiling the filmmakers, with a look at their background, development, and cinematic mentalities. It eventually gets around to discussing Heartbreak Kid and happily without acting like a promo for the film.

"Ben & Jerry" (4:55) looks not at the ice cream moguls but at the Stillers, covering their father/son working dynamic from their own perspectives and others'.

The next three features convey the unique, fun nature of production. "Heartbreak Halloween" (3:20) showcases the creative costumes crew members wore to work for a fun autumnal holiday. "The Egg Toss" (8:00) covers the competition that became a regular production-bonding activity on lunch hours and day ends, as cast and crew tried to keep eggs intact for a prize of several hundred dollars. The Farrelly Brothers even discuss and illustrate strategies for success. A four-minute gag reel provides some entertainment with the usual mix of blown lines and antics.

Peter Farrelly, the older brother, takes us through the fine points of "The Egg Toss", a competition that bonded crew members and padded winners' wallets. Eddie and Lila's beachside debate over sunscreen is among those that are extended in the Deleted Scenes section. The main menu illustrates that "The Heartbreak Kid" takes its title seriously with heart cursors and imagery.

We then get six deleted scenes (7:20), most of which are extensions of existing scenes. A couple serve to further illustrate how much of a monster Lila is
(she has specific requests for a meal order, gasp!), while the longest and most remarkable one brings Miranda's ex Cal (Johnny Sneed) to Mexico via a sky-dive.

A single Easter egg is found on the Special Features menu, taking one to a clip (2:55) in which Peter Farrelly reveals the best practical joke he's ever pulled on his father.

Trailers play at the start of the disc for Drillbit Taylor and Into the Wild. They're also accessible from the Bonus Features' "Previews" listing, where they follow promos for Stardust, Hot Rod, and "The Mind of Mencia": Season 3 Uncensored.

The main menu uses a heart motif while alternating between several montages that depict the film's emotional highs and lows. Submenus maintain the theme but lose animation and appropriate musical cues. There are no inserts found inside the keepcase.

Aloe lotion doesn't seem to please the very sunburned Lila. It wouldn't be a Ben Stiller comedy without a love interest. Only "The Heartbreak Kid" delivers two.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Critics and moviegoers were cooler towards The Heartbreak Kid than other Farrelly Brothers films, but I can't see more than marginal differences in its artistic success versus their earlier works. The R rating allows the brothers to get a little crasser, which isn't necessarily a good thing. But Stiller is as about as strong a leading man as anyone in comedy today, and he helps keep the film afloat despite a flimsy high concept, as do good supporting performances. DreamWorks' DVD satisfies with its commentary, main featurette, and lighter production pieces all registering as diverting and different. Deleted scenes, bloopers, and fine picture/sound provide standard support, putting this disc where it should be. Unless you're a Farrelly or Stiller completist, I can't see this being one to own. But it makes for a worthwhile rental that's guaranteed to provide some laughs, which is true of just about anything from either the star or the directors.

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Reviewed December 24, 2007.



Text copyright 2007 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2007 DreamWorks Pictures and Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.