The Heartbreak Kid


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Farrelly Brothers have always occupied a special place in my family's heart. Dumb and Dumber is my youngest son's favorite comedy. There's Something About Mary is in my own top five, and that film's Detective Healy is one of my favorite comic characters. All of us love Kingpin as well, and we often watch these three films together.

But The Heartbreak Kid is pretty damned close to unwatchable.

When I tried to figure out exactly why, I was reminded of a conversation I had with our colleague Tuna many years ago. I mentioned how much I loved There's Something About Mary and how funny it was, and Tuna responded that he liked the movie just as much as I did, but not because he thought it was all that funny. He just really liked the characters and situations, and enjoyed the story. When I recalled that conversation, it struck me just what is wrong with The Heartbreak Kid. We would not want to spend time with the characters under any circumstances. Just about everyone in this film is a dickhead. It's a comedy about a man (Ben Stiller) who cheats on his wife while they are honeymooning, and the only character we can identify with is the woman he cheats with, who seems nice enough and doesn't know he's married, but is not funny or very interesting in any way. She's basically just a plot device. The wife turns out to be dumber than a goose as well as a head case of the first order. The husband himself is an impatient and intolerant jerk. At the end of the picture, in an epilogue, he's planning to cheat on his second wife in identical circumstances. He's also too easily irritated. How easily? One of the things that bothers him most about his hastily-wed wife is that she wants to have non-stop crazy sex on their honeymoon.


You know, I've been in this situation. I dated a woman like this for a year. Sexiest woman I've ever known, but a real bimbo. In fact she really had a lot in common with the ditzy wife in this movie - talked a lot like her, even looked a lot like her. We really had no emotional connection and nothing to talk about, so I'll admit that I did eventually grow weary of this red-hot woman's desire for non-stop recreational sex day and night.

But it took a helluva lot longer than two days!

The husband's dad and his best friend (played respectively by Ben Stiller's real-life dad and Rob Corddry) are boors who constantly give him harebrained advice which is doubly cursed by being as humorless as it is toxic. The bad guy is a witless redneck who ends up beating Stiller with a baseball bat. That's comedy gold, Jerry, gold! As Pat Reeder noted in The Comedy Wire, "This is the first movie remake that made audiences yearn for the charm and warmth of Charles Grodin." 

In There's Something About Mary, Ben Stiller was a lovelorn guy who wondered whatever happened to his dream girl from high school. He was a nice guy who earned our identification. His dream girl was a real sweetheart with a great sense of humor. Stiller established a genuine regard for her mentally-challenged brother. Even the scheming, lying, insensitive Detective Healy was a guy you'd love to have a beer with, just to marvel at how he managed to think up such great lies so fast on his feet. In a nutshell, that sums up the real difference between the two films:  you would rather have a beer with the antagonist in Mary than with the supposed empathetic characters in Heartbreak.

Of course, you might forgive the obnoxious characters if the film were loaded with laughs, but it isn't. The gross-outs are tired and recycled. The verbal humor is AWOL. There are many group conversations in which people are laughing at each other's jokes and really starting to like one another, while we watch bewildered, wondering what they are laughing at and what they see in one another. If I had met the nice girl's family and gotten to know them as Stiller did, I would have felt like I was auditioning for the Ned Beatty role in a Deliverance remake. The worst part of watching those painful conversations is knowing that the Farrelly Brothers must have been deluded into thinking they were presenting witty and charming dialogue. That's how completely they have lost their gift.

As a great fan of their early work, I wish I didn't have to keep reporting the brothers' ongoing inability to capture the combination of lowbrow humor, sentimentality, and engaging characters that once made them the heirs apparent to Mel Brooks.

Now that is heartbreak, kid.

DVD info not currently available  


2 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
2 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
3 BBC (of 5 stars)
30 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
45 (of 100)





6.2 IMDB summary (of 10)
C Yahoo Movies





Box Office Mojo. Although the industry expected blockbuster numbers (by October standards) and rolled it out to 3000+ theaters, the film came in with about half of the predicted amount in its opening weekend ($14m), and could not take the #1 spot from a mediocre carry-over.




  • Malin Akerman showed her breasts in dark sex scenes and her bum as she walked to the bathroom.
  • Kayla Kleevage showed her mammoth breasts in a hot tub.








Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Barely watchable for Farrelly and genre fans. Unwatchable for others.