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Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007 12:00 am

Seven day itch

The Farrellys get the right chemistry in Heartbreak Kid

Untitled Document Ben Stiller’s shtick is wearing a bit thin. Although I appreciate his comedic timing, I’ve been hoping that he would give serious films another go, because he’s proved with his turn in Permanent Midnight that he has the chops to do so. I have a feeling that he can play the insecure, frazzled-but-lovable manchild in his sleep — he’s done nothing but give us slight variations on this theme since There’s Something About Mary. The bad news is that Stiller isn’t allowed to stretch in his latest comedy, The Heartbreak Kid. The good news is that the Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, who first collaborated with the actor on Mary, have returned to their raunchy roots, delivering their funniest film in nearly a decade. Stiller is Eddie Cantrow, the owner of a sporting-goods store, who thinks far too much for his own good. Undergoing a bit of a midlife crisis as he realizes that all of his friends are married and he’s still living the single life, he winds up impulsively proposing to Lila (Malin Akerman), a blond knockout who seems to have not only looks but brains and personality as well. Only after the whirlwind courtship and marriage does Eddie start to realize that looks can be deceiving. Lila’s irritating traits begin to emerge as the couple drives to a honeymoon in Mexico. When Lila is sidelined by a severe sunburn, Eddie explores Cabo San Lucas on his own and meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a fetching, grounded brunette whom he falls for instantly. Fearing the truth, Eddie fails to tell his new love that he is married, but comedic fireworks and complications ensue once Lila figures out that her husband has eyes for another. The Farrellys are not everyone’s cup of tea, and their pairing of the sweet and the profane sometimes works against them. However, when their chemistry is right they’re able to lace their sweet sentiments with just the right dose of crudity, a recipe that recent features The Forty-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up have aped successfully. Kid is a worthy companion, not only eliciting laughs with its comic daring but also accurately re-creating the impulsivity and elation that are common in the initial stages of most every romantic relationship.
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