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Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Heartbreak Kid

Two words: “Donkey Fluffer.” When I came out of the theater at the Essex Cinemas this weekend after seeing The Heartbreak Kid the staff behind the counter asked what I thought of the movie and the only two words that came to mind immediately were those two: “Donkey Fluffer.” That’s what you get when you stick around through the entire credits. Sometimes you see things you would never expect to see anywhere, and there, it is, before you in giant letters on the silver screen. Of course you have to remember that this is a Farrelly Brothers production, the same duo who gave the world The Ringer, Stuck On You, Shallow Hal, and their best known work There’s Something About Mary. These boys have put male, um, er, DNA in Cameron Diaz’s hair, ridiculed the morbidly obese, poked fun at conjoined twins, and staged a spoof about cheating your way into the Special Olympics by pretending to be as stupid as Johnny Knoxville, so no one should come into The Heartbreak Kid without expecting to be left a little bit shocked, grossed out, and exhausted from all the laughs. In other words, it was a lot like one of my typical family reunions.

Oh, don’t think I don’t already know you all think my family is more twisted than an explanation from Senator Craig for his bathroom habits while visiting Minnesota airport restrooms, but as far as I know nobody in my family has managed to fall in love with somebody else while still on their honeymoon, which is what happens to Ben Stiller (Night at the Museum) in the movie.


In The Heartbreak Kid Stiller plays Eddie Cantrow, a sports equipment store owner from San Francisco. After reaching forty and never marrying, he takes the advice of his very married pal Mac (Rob Corddry; I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) and takes the plunge, meeting and marrying a woman he has known less than two months. Lila (Malin Akerman; The Brothers Solomon) seems to be the perfect match for Eddie. She is gorgeous, fun-loving, and exuberant, and their courtship is as sappy as any you’d see in the movies. Maybe too much so. During this first thirty minutes of the movie I was surprised at how big of a yawn The Heartbreak Kid was turning into. I mean, it was an okay romance of the Reese Witherspoon variety, but there was nary a nasty turn in sight. I feared Peter and Bobby Farrelly were going soft on us, but, wow, was I wrong!

The entire movie changes tone and taste when Eddie and Lila head on down to Cabo San Lucas on their honeymoon. Within an hour of their departure Eddie is already feeling stressed out by Lila’s constant singing and need for noise around her. What follows in the next 24 hours makes that look like a minor distraction as “perfect match” Lila turns into “perfect witch” and sends poor Eddie straight to the hotel bar in need of escape from his nutty, whiny wife. It’s there that he accidently meets the luscious Miranda (Michelle Monaghan; Mission: Impossible III), a wholesome Midwesterner on an annual family holiday with her large extended brood of cousins, uncles, aunts, and assorted who-knows-what.

A misunderstanding fuels Miranda’s unintentional belief that Eddie is in Cabo to mourn the death of his recently murdered wife, a story that travels quicker than gossip about Britney’s missing panties around Hollywood. Soon, he inexplicably has the hearts of all of Miranda’s family and Miranda herself, well, almost all. There is creepy cousin Martin (Danny McBride; Hot Rod) who reminded me of a pit bull with a burr stuck under his balls. He also reminded me of my own cousin Brad, who became a large animal vet just so he could put his arm all the way up the back end of a cow, which seemed like a lot of studying and hard work to go through just to experience something so…gross. If Martin was real, he and Brad would be BFF, but I wouldn’t want to shake either of their hands, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, most of the second hour of The Heartbreak Kid is filled with a shell game of sorts, with Eddie trying to hide Lila from Miranda and vice versa until the inevitable accidental reveal, which ends with Eddie on the short end of both ends of the same stick. Basically, he ends up feeling like he is a cow and he has just spent an hour with my cousin Brad.

Of course, with the not-so-sage advice of his father, played by Stiller’s real life Dad Jerry Stiller (Hairspray), you know the movie is far from over, and Eddie turns from admirer to stalker, with a prolonged detour into a series of laughs and a sub-plot I will leave as a surprise, eventually finding what the Japanese might call “Double Happiness.” Look for a really unexpected cameo in the last few minutes of the movie, and then, definitely stay for the credits, which feature a delightful group song featuring the entire cast and shot between takes throughout the making of the film. It’s really funny, as is the equally startling credit for that “Donkey Fluffer”.

Now if you don’t know what a “fluffer” does exactly, you may have to Google the term because it isn’t explicitly revealed, although the need for one is obvious in one scene when Eddie and Miranda sneak away for an afternoon to enjoy the local culture in Cabo. That’s about the only thing that isn’t explicitly explained, however. The Heartbreak Kid is definitely a raunchy ride and full of adult situations and language. I heard things I haven’t uttered since giving birth, or as I call it “The let go of my ribs and get the hell out of Mommy’s uterus” 38 hours of hell.

I laughed myself silly (or sillier, as my hubby would tell you).
The Heartbreak Kid is an interesting improvement on the original version, which was no travesty, given that it was written by Neil Simon and directed by Elaine May back in 1972. The decision by the Farrellys to strip Eddie of a central focus of the original, his being a Jew, and make it a non-issue no doubt makes his character more identifiable to a wider audience in our perfectly p.c. times, though the Farrellys hardly seem to give a whoop about being p.c.; they also allowed Lila to actually be attractive and desirable, although not right for Eddie, so it is no longer a case of out-and-out ridiculing Lila for being a regular “Ugly Betty” as it was in the 1972 version. Now it is her behavior that’s ugly, not her.

While the 1972 version probably seemed “cutting edge” for its time, it definitely stayed away from jokes about genital jewelry and scenes showing full-frontal nudity of same. This Heartbreak Kid does its best to leave nothing to the imagination except one thing ~ what in the world is left to show if Hollywood decides to remake this remake in another 35 years? Oy gevalt!

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