Reviews by Jason Pirodsky
A blatant attempt to recapture some of the magic of There´s Something About Mary, the Farrelly Bros.’ The Heartbreak Kid provides plenty of laughs but none of the heart of the earlier film: ultimately, this is a disarmingly cruel and narcissistic picture. It´s hard to identify with or care about a leading man who flirts with another woman on his honeymoon, or a female character the filmmakers attempt to make so unlikable that we can accept the leading man´s actions; when the inevitable gross-out gags come, we have a different reaction here than we would if we had some emotional involvement with the characters. But the film is still amusing, even hilarious at times. Backhand compliment: this is the Farrelly Bros. funniest feature in 10 years, since they reached their pinnacle with Mary.
Remake of the 1972 feature directed by Elaine May from a Neil Simon script, pic keeps the general plot outline the same despite an injection of five (credited) new screenwriters. Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) meets Lila, the girl of his dreams with the David Bowie panties; soon they´re married and headed to a Mexican honeymoon. But she´s not the ideal woman he thought she was, as unfortunate misunderstandings – far too many for the film to retain credibility – immediately begin to come to light. After a bad sunburn leaves Lila stuck in the hotel room for much of the honeymoon, Lenny begins to flirt with Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) who may really be the girl of his dreams, and the audience waits for everything to blow up in his face in spectacular fashion. Stiller is a unique actor – we take a perverse pleasure in the physical violence directed at him and the emotional stress he builds up – and he´s terrific here, pratfalling his way through peppers up the nose, jellyfish bites, and mountains of lies with a dogged resolution. But the Three´s Company-type situations (massive misunderstandings dragged out through lengthy dialogue) get to be too much; the interrogation scene in Mary was an out-and-out classic, but it was an isolated incident – here, similar scenes form the bulk of the movie (particularly, Lenny´s two relationships) and only distance us from these clueless characters the script desperately wants us to care about.
Third entry in the increasingly tiresome series no longer resembles its video game roots; director Russell Mulcahy (of Highlander fame) has instead brought to the film a post-apocalyptic mixture of The Road Warrior and Romero´s Day of the Dead, where long, dull, desert-roaming sequences are punctuated by brief zombie-action interludes. Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, one-dimensional heroine who is now developing telekinetic superpowers (newcomers to the series will be lost here) and wandering the Nevada landscape while evading the omnipresent eyes of Umbrella Corp. and Dr. Isaacs, who are attempting to synthesize a cure for the zombie virus from her blood. This results in bizarre scenes featuring a multitude of Jovovich clones, often unintentionally…strange, whether they´re piled in mass graves like genocide victims or suspended nude in giant spheres of water like fetuses in robotic wombs. It´s all nicely filmed, with lingering widescreen cinematography covering the vast deserts and a stark production design (by Eugenio Caballero, who won an Oscar for Pan´s Labyrinth) but it´s rather sloppily put together by Mulcahy, who never involves us in the story (what little story there is) or the characters, who were (in all seriousness) better defined in the video games. Look out for Spencer Locke´s soon-to-be classic “they call me K-Mart” speech. Written by the director & writer of the first film, Paul W. S. Anderson, who must really like that laser grid booby trap – it´s used again here in two key scenes. As bad as it is, pic is no worse than the previous entry.
Also opening: Faith Akin’s The Edge of Heaven (showtimes | IMDb), which comes highly regarded from the festival circuit and is Germany’s official selection to compete for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Screening in German/Turkish with Czech subtitles on Prague screens.