Have you noticed when you go into the video store, lately, that almost every new release on the shelf is boldly labeled as being the "Unrated-Unedited-Super-Sexy-Too-Hot-for-Theaters-Director's-Cut?"
This is a fairly obvious marketing scam, but people fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Most of the time, all "Unrated" means is that the special features weren't submitted to the MPAA ooooh, you might get to hear Will Ferrell cussing in the blooper reel! Occasionally, however, the movies are a little racier, including a few more frames of nudity. After all, if it was naked girls that made "American Pie" good, then surely more naked girls couldn't hurt, right?
Wrong. Case in point: the "steamier" version of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." I actually bought this one because I really liked the original version and figured more of the same had to better. (Don't judge me too harshly I'm not even sure where you would find the original version.) Boy was I wrong. Those few minutes of extra raunch completely spoiled what had been a perfectly balanced romance/sex comedy. After it was over I was just depressed.
I bring this up because I just went to see the Farrelly Brothers latest comic offering, a remake of 1972's "The Heartbreak Kid." These guys basically reinvented the raunchy comedy, offering up huge hits from "Dumb & Dumber" to "There's Something about Mary." A Farrelly movie is guaranteed to have something to make you uncomfortable in it, but this time they've gone too far, offering up what feels more like an "Unedited" DVD version of the movie than an actual theatrical release. I'm sure there was a sweet, funny movie in there somewhere, but they make it awful hard to find it.
Ben Stiller, going ominously gray, is Eddie Cantrow, a moderately successful mid-lifer who has come to the uncomfortable realization that he may never get married. Enter Lila beautiful, fun, single, and environmentally conscious basically perfect. Eddie intervenes when her purse is snatched, and soon their romance is in full bloom. Things are fast-tracked, however, when Lila tells Eddie that she has to move to Holland to continue her research career. She also mentions that the company doesn't relocate married people you can see where this is going. Marriage. It's not till after the ceremony and en route to Cabo San Lucas for the honeymoon that Eddie begins to ponder his decision. Lila, it turns out, is a nightmare.
Whether it's the incessant singing, the disgustingly deviated septum, or her terrifying bedroom manner, Eddie can't catch a break, leading him to the inevitable conclusion that he's made a huge mistake. To make matters worse, Eddie, while taking a brief respite at the hotel bar, meets someone normal.
Miranda, on vacation with the family, is sweet, intelligent, and available, leading to the classic romantic comedy set-up two girls and one befuddled guy. This is all pretty standard stuff, with the inevitable attempted confession, leading to the inevitable miscommunication, leading to the inevitable blow-up. Will the good guy get the girl of his dreams? Haven't you ever seen one of these movies before?
The screenwriters stick to the basic tried-and-true formula here, but that's not the problem. The problem is that, in an attempt recreate the shocking, yet hilariously successful "There's Something about Mary," the Farrelly brothers step completely out of bounds. For almost every genuinely funny moment, there's one that makes you wish you'd picked a different movie.
True to form, the brothers deliver their typical cheap shots, mocking the elderly couple, the senile bar-fly, and the fat lady. Sadly, these have become the mild jokes. Layered over the genuine clever comedy are a cavalcade of scenes guaranteed to offend. Some raunch in a movie is fine, but not when it feels as forced as it does here.
Especially disappointing is the dialogue which, in a desperate attempt to feel edgy, is clunky and embarrassing. The worst part of the whole film was watching veteran comedian Jerry Stiller as Eddie's sex-obsessed father. I sure hope he has another movie in him, because this cringe-worthy performance would make for a pretty depressing legacy. Malin Akerman, as Lila, isn't bad, though she's such an obvious Cameron Diaz clone that her performance is somewhat shadowed. Ben Stiller is always funny, even when his movie isn't, so he's a saving grace, I guess, but you have to wonder why he puts himself through this.
Worst of all, "The Heartbreak Kid" is way too long, making some necessary editing all the more obvious. Trimmed of about 15 minutes, "Kid" could have been sweet, good-natured, and hilarious, but as it is, heartbreak is more than just the title.
"The Heartbreak Kid" is rated R for extremely raunchy dialogue, explicit sex scenes, nudity, and crude humor.
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.
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