It’ll probably ring box-office bells, but this hit-and-miss attempt by the Farrelly brothers to up their own ante on crude smacks of comic desperation. If There’s Something About Mary reps the F boys, Bobby and Peter, at their hilarious high tide, The Heartbreak Kid barely rises above the shoals of Shallow Hal and Stuck on You. For starters, there’s no one to root for. Mary had Cameron Diaz at her sunshine-sexy sweetest. Kid features Diaz clone Malin Akerman as the blond bombshell Ben Stiller’s Eddie snags as a bride. Before you can say “lucky dude,” Akerman’s Lila reveals herself as a shrill sexual carnivore with a fat mother, an S&M streak and pubic hair that grows like wildfire. The pube wig is a gimmick meant to match the semen Diaz wore as hair gel in Mary. Hmm, don’t think so. I also don’t think this remake even tries to match the dark wit and social satire in Elaine May’s 1972 original, which Neil Simon adapted from a Bruce Jay Friedman story.
The plot device is the same: A guy falls in love on his honeymoon, but not with his wife. Thirty-five years ago, Charles Grodin starred as the Jewish groom who longed to dump his plain brunet wife (Oscar nominee Jeannie Berlin) for a blond shiksa goddess (Cybill Shepherd). The Farrellys dump the culture clash and further switch gears by making the blonde the bride and the object of desire the brunette Miranda, hardly plain in the person of the luscious Michelle Monaghan. When a severe sunburn sidelines Lila from her Mexican honeymoon, Eddie (Stiller finds little in the role to challenge him) hangs with the low-key Miranda and her Southern family, of course telling no one that he’s married. As Eddie tries desperately to keep Lila and Miranda from their inevitable meeting, the laughs are meant to come tumbling down. And sometimes they do. The actors are skilled farceurs, including Jerry Stiller, Ben’s dad, playing the father who wants only that Eddie should be out bagging babes. But the Farrellys soon reveal all the characters to be deeply shallow, in constant search for instant gratification. May’s film found the heartbreak in the kid. The Farrellys settle for cheap jokes built exclusively to shoot down easy targets.