Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Heartbreak Kid


A young man who is having an affair with an older, married woman falls in love with her daughter. Not a very nice thing to do, I think we’d all agree. Hideously inappropriate behavior. But we like Benjamin in The Graduate, because though he’s not man enough (he’s 18) to own up to it with the daughter, he struggles with it. He knows he’s behaved badly. We like him. We wish him well. And hey, at least all the men in the audience know there was no way in hell an 18-year-old could have resisted Mrs. Robinson’s advances. I know I couldn’t have.
Now, flash forward 40 years. (40 years!!! My, how time flies.) An older man who has commitment problems has second thoughts about his marriage and is strongly attracted to another woman … while on his honeymoon! Not a very nice thing to do. Hideously inappropriate behavior … and I detest this asshole, because his only solution to the problem is to lie, lie, lie. There is not an ounce of moral fiber in him. This is all played for laughs, of course, and I imagine it all could have worked (I never saw the Bruce Jay Friedman, Neil Simon, Elaine May original, but I wouldn’t be surprised it Simon and May could have pulled it off) … but not in the hands of the Farrelly Brothers. Don’t get me wrong, these dudes are very good at things like Dumb and Dumber and Shallow Hal and Stuck on You. There’s Something About Mary transcended its silliness and delivered some of the best comic moments ever, and they were even better when they made Fever Pitch, one of our favorite recent romantic comedies. But their next project is The Three Stooges, and that’s the level this one operates at. It takes a genius like Buck Henry to write about a situation we’d normally condemn, and make us like it. This script doesn’t have an ounce of that sort of genius.
I will admit, I laughed some during the first half. Maybe that’s where we should have left, only at the drive-in there’s the second feature …