Stiller and the Farrellys scrape the bottom of the comedy barrel.
The Farrelly Brothers have officially lost it. Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There's Something About Mary, Me, Myself & Irene. All great. Dispute that statement if you want, but I loved them all. Filled with high concept laughs and consistently on-point gross-out humor, those four films cemented the Farrellys as the best directing duo working in the comedy genre at the time.
But then, something strange happened. The brothers Peter and Bobby grew a collective conscience. It started with Shallow Hal, a moderately amusing high conceptor aimed at the old adage "true beauty is on the inside." Okay, forgivable enough. It wasn't up to their usual gut-busting standard, but it was passable. Then came Stuck On You - an alleged comedy starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear as Siamese twins. I don't know, could work? Well, it didn't. There was barely a laugh in the entire film.
For the record, Fever Pitch came between Stuck On You and their latest, The Heartbreak Kid, but I wouldn't really consider that a true Farrelly Brothers movie. Based on the Nick Hornby novel, the Farrellys were less the authors of this material and more along the lines of hired guns. And even so, it was only a mediocre movie. Also before Heartbreak Kid, the Farrellys produced the painfully unfunny The Ringer.
So now we have their latest, The Heartbreak Kid. Ben Stiller returns to the identical role he's been playing for nearly a decade since There's Something About Mary. Well Ben, wake up. When you were in your early 30's, this character was kinda cute. Now seeing this latest incarnation in your early 40's, he's downright irritating, pathetic and completely unlikable.
Admittedly, for the first 30 minutes or so of Heartbreak Kid, I laughed a few times. There was still a chance for the movie to rise to the level of the past Farrelly work. At the very least, it could keep steady enough to be considered a vast improvement over Stuck On You and The Ringer. But oh how it falls, a spiraling nosedive for the rest of the movie.
When Stiller's Eddie Cantrow first realizes his new bride Lila (Malin Akerman) is a nightmare, it's funny. And she is pretty annoying. But then Cantrow goes from a guy who merely realizes he married the wrong woman to a guy who is cheating on his new bride by any and all manners of deception available. Besides that, Lila stops being annoying at a point. She's stuck in the room with a terrible sunburn and all she wants to do is talk to Eddie and try to work things out. Instead, Eddie treats her and his new love, Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), for that matter, like dirt. He's disloyal, dishonest and downright reprehensible. By the movie's end, you hate Eddie far more than Lila. In fact, it will probably be pretty hard for most male audience members to identify with a guy complaining about a woman who looks like Malin Akerman wanting to have sex too much (is that even possible) merely because she's a little wild in the sack (again, huh?), likes to sing with the radio (think I could get past that) and isn't the sharpest tool in the shed (men have dealt with far worse, right K-Fed?).
The Heartbreak Kid goes so downhill so fast as to completely annihilate any chuckles it delivered earlier on. Jerry Stiller is a little funny, but he's also pretty much playing the same dirty old man role he's been delivering for years. At least he's got the excuse of actually being an old man. For Ben, he's just given up - just like the directing brothers who launched his irritating on screen persona in the first place.