October 5, 2007, - 8:21 am
By Debbie Schlussel
A lot of mediocrity at the movies this weekend:
* “The Heartbreak Kid“: The poster for this movie says, “Love Hurts.” But seeing this horrible remake of the 1972 Charles Grodin/Cybill Shepherd original hurts far worse. The Neil Simon original was an amusing, light-hearted look at a man who quickly marries a woman he thinks is perfect for him. Right after he ties the knot, he realizes that his new brunette wife is unbearably annoying, the blonde woman of his dreams is the one he should have married instead.
In this incarnation, the man (Ben Stiller) quickly marries the blonde babe, who turns out to be completely annoying and unbearable, when on his honeymoon he meets a brunette Southerner (he calls her a “redneck”) with whom he’d rather be.
But while the original was entertaining and fun, the Ben Stiller/Farrelly Brothers version is truly tasteless, perverted, and disgusting. It starts out being hilarious. The first 20-30 minutes are very good. It’s everything after that which goes downhill . . . fast. It’s lowbrow, extremely vulgar, and not funny after that, just gross and stupid. The movie could have ended like five times before it eventually does. Even though it’s only an hour and 45 minutes, it seems to go on forever. The only fun actor in this movie is Rob Corddry as Stiller’s buddy. He steals the show, the few times he’s onscreen. Ben Stiller’s protagonist is someone we grow to hate, which wasn’t the aim of the script.
If there is anything positive about this one, it’s that the original “Heartbreak Kid” features an overtly Jewish man who marries a stereotypically annoying Jewish woman, then wants the stereotypical tall, blonde gentile woman, who is infinitely more desirable. That’s the bigoted message of the 1970s version. This new incarnation “de-Jew-izes” the whole Jewish self-hatred thing going on in the original, with the characters of unknown religion played by Ben Stiller and his father Jerry Stiller of “Seinfeld” fame (playing his Dad onscreen). In this one, his annoying new wife seems to be a gentile woman, though she is also of ambiguous religious background. And she is as annoying as the Jewish wife was in the original version, maybe more so. That, however, doesn’t redeem this absolute time-waster of a “comedy.”
Rent the original, instead. This remake is just bad.
* “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising“: A young American teen boy living with his family in rural England soon discovers that he is an immortal warrior fighting on behalf of the Light vs. the Darkness. He must grow up fast and find six signs in a few days. If he does not, the forces of the evil dark will take over, and the world as we know it will be destroyed.
This movie started out as a charming science fiction fairy tale for kids, but degraded along the way. A scene with more snakes than the famous “Raiders of The Lost Ark” scene is spine-tingly frightening and could be scary for kids. Other scenes might frighten kids (though maybe no more than a Harry Potter flick), too. Still others are unbelievable and not consistent with the story. What begins with great promise and lots of charm degrades into a banal, mildly scary (for kids), and carried away mess of a plot.
Still, okay for kids. Just not great.
* “The Jane Austen Book Club“: This chick flick is so bad, it would be rejected by the Lifetime Network. Five self-absorbed, extremely annoying, whiny women and an effeminate, annoying, whiny, weird man form a book club for which they read and discuss each of Jane Austen’s six novels. In the end, their dysfunctional problems and relationships with cretinous louts a/k/a men (is there any other kind of man in these movies?) are solved. The end. Like I said, all men–but for the effeminate, weird one in the book club–are macho, insensitive creeps. Avoid this at all cost. Almost two hours of your life wasted and never to be redeemed. Plus $10.
Tags: Ben Stiller, Ben Stiller Remake, Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Debbie Schlussel, fun actor, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Book Club, Jerry Stiller, Love Hurts, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rob Corddry, Rob Corddry as Stiller, The Heartbreak Kid, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Seeker, United Kingdom, USD