mpw-4964.jpgThe problem with The Heartbreak Kid is the problem of nearly all US black comedies over the last twenty years. US mainstream film-makers genuinely seem unable to construct dislikable leads. Not necessarily anti-heroes, but charismatic yet despicable characters. Bearing in mind that in The Heartbreak Kid Ben Stiller plays a character who dumps his own wife on honeymoon within two days you would think this should not be hard. But rather than consider him a churl, it tries to explain this by listing the following faults for the newlywed
*She USED TO BE a cocaine user (and has now got a deviated septum)
*Her job does not pay, she is a volunteer
*She enjoys raucously violent sex
*She queefs. Once. (THEY DON’T EVEN SMELL- WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM?)
*She sings along to pop songs. Quite well.
*She gets sunburned!
*Her mother is fat.

Stiller can play dislikeable. Stiller can do charismatic. Stiller could probably have played this part as creepily as Charles Grodin in the seventies. But fails. You’d think the Farrelly Brothers would have learnt this one by now, but their everyman softness (which means they have an admirably large number of disabled people in their casts) does not seem to allow them the option. Some people are just plain bad. And some movies are too. Just throwing a number of Bowie tracks on the soundtrack does not constitute a theme, and the central ookiness of the premise never leaves the project. I’m not saying the Grodin version is much better, the plot of someone falling in love with someone else on their honeymoon is a difficult one to do well. Even Neil Simon has trouble with it. But as much as I have liked Farrelly Brothers films int he past, there is something a bit off about the following credit.
BASED ON A SCREENPLAY BY NEIL SIMON
WRITTEN BY LESLEY DIXON, SCOT ARMSTRONG PETER FARRELLY, BOBBY FARRELLY & KEVIN BARNETT.

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