Movie Report: The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

Book coverI think of this movie as coming after Ben Stiller’s peak period, but to be honest, something happened in 2006 that killed our cinema-going days for a while (before the insipidity of modern movies completely killed it). My oldest was born in 2006, so I missed a lot of movies between then and forever except for those I’m catching up on via home media (whose reach is already waning as streaming takes over). Looking at his IMDB listing, Stiller has remained active, although mostly on sequels to things that came out before 2006. So I guess we don’t have to pen a “Where Are They Now?” entry about him just yet.

At any rate, in this film, Stiller plays Eddie, a sporting goods shop owner in San Francisco who feels pressure to get married because his long-time fiance is getting married and because his best friend (played by Rob Corddry, who also was in How To Be A Latin Lover and the Hot Tub Time Machine movies–so I’ve seen him often enough to learn his name), because his friend (he repeated because that other parenthetical grew long) who extols the virtues of marriage whilst being a henpecked husband, and because he, Eddie, is forty. So when he attempts to help a woman getting mugged on the streets of San Francisco, he meets an attractive woman who seems perfect. After a montage of them snogging in various locations over a couple of months, they marry and go to Cabo for their honeymoon.

During the trip, though, she starts to annoy him, and starts slipping things about her past (cocaine addiction and apparently a lot of varied sexual adventures, along with the fact that the “mugging” was an ex-boyfriend trying to reclaim his wallet which she stole from him). They don’t agree much on what to do, and on the first day, a beach day, she gets sunburned terribly and refuses to leave the room. So Eddie goes out to dinner and meets a woman in Cabo with her family, and then meets her family, and has a montage of pleasant trips with her whilst his new wife is laid up. So much so that she falls for him, too, but when she discovers he has a living wife (not a murdered wife, which is part of a story he told to kids at the wedding in scene 1 who also happen to be in Cabo at the same time), it’s over. Eddie has a montage of him trying to cross the border without papers as his wife burned all his belongings before returning to the U.S. When he arrives in Oxford, Mississippi, he finds that Miranda (played by Michelle Monaghan) has married an ex-boyfriend and is happy. Eddie reflects on his life and decamps from San Francisco, having lost his sporting goods store in the divorce, moving to Cabo and opening a business on the beach. Some time later, Miranda returns to Cabo separated from her husband and looking to rekindle her romance with Eddie, but the very last scene is Eddie telling his new Mexican wife the same lies he told his first wife when he was going to sneak off with Miranda.

So, basically, the whole thing is a deconstruction of marriage. I mean, he rushed into his marriage after a couple of months, only to discover some things about his new wife that he didn’t learn in those months when they were together all the time, apparently snogging but not shagging. And, in the end, he has not learned anything and is in the same place, with the same shortcomings.

This is a remake of an earlier film starring Charles Grodin. I haven’t seen it, but the Wikipedia entry makes it sound like Eddie was a less sympathetic figure. A cad, but in the end he marries the girl (and ends up at the kids’ table, which is where Eddie begins in this film). So there is some recognition of the value of marriage and that Eddie is outside the bounds of the mainstream or the “good.” But Ben Stiller plays, well, Ben Stiller, so the character comes of as sympathetic, it could happen to anybody, even as he plies deception and continues the deception to the end of the film and beyond. So I didn’t like the film and ultimately found it morally repugnant.

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