Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Prankster Kings Go Back to Well (Again)

Sure, I root bigtime for the Farrelly Brothers, and I also truly think that they are very funny fellows. Same goes for Ben Stiller, a comic actor of the first degree, truly the epitome of the movie comedy everyman, and a man with a persona that’s hard to dislike. All of that is to say that the new Farrelly/Stiller concoction, The Heartbreak Kid, doesn’t quite meet, or more importantly, exceed my predisposed expectations. The 1972 movie that this is based on was directed by Elaine May from a Neil Simon adaptation of a Bruce Jay Friedman short story, and it starred Charles Grodin as the title character, a me-guy who dumps a brand new bride during his honeymoon and chases another woman. It was a broad but brittle little gem with an obvious subtext about Jewish self-loathing. The Farrelly’s know from broad of course, and the typical gags abound—bodily functions, sexual provocations, and physical peculiarities, hardy-har-har. The Farrelly Boys continually position themselves as the prankster kings of fraternity row. It’s time to graduate finally, and to hone their satire into something more incisive, utilizing vulgarity as an occasional punch line instead of the prime source of humor. Their last effort, Fever Pitch, may have been a touch soft around the edges, but it allowed for some genuineness, and it seemed a step into an adventurous direction.

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