Movie News & Reviews

The 'Heartbreak' of low expectations

Never mind Mary; there's something about those Farrelly brothers. Call it the Peter Pan complex: They refuse to grow up. Sure, they know how to exploit every embarrassing adolescent foible to the hilt. But after a few disgusting deviated septum episodes, bone-crunching clumsiness and far too many delirious drunken binges, what's left to explore?

Eddie Cantrow is a pathetic 40-year-old bachelor. Recalling his genial "Meet the Fockers" role, the quietly charming Ben Stiller here appears assertive and yet somewhat emasculated, veering between the two throughout.

Following an embarrassing chance encounter with Lila (an exuberant and luminous Malin Akerman), and a whirlwind courtship, they're hitched -- for better or for worse. And there's no mistaking which path this crazy couple is on.

On their instantly depressing honeymoon in gorgeous Cabo San Lucas, Eddie experiences a bitterly touching case of buyer's remorse; or as he tells his bubbly bride-turned-dominatrix: "It's like a switch has been flipped."

Apparently, Lila is churlish, obsessed with radio singalong, and shares very little in common with her new life partner.

Stuck in a beautiful resort with a grouchy and badly sunburned bride, Eddie seems hopeless -- until another chance encounter (sensing a pattern here?!?) with Miranda (a delightful Michelle Monaghan), who arrives like a welcome oasis of calm in his young yet stormy marriage. Gentle and markedly different from the wild Lila, Miranda makes the regrettable mistake of trusting Eddie. His secret life momentarily hidden, he realizes, "It's not easy being married when you're in love with someone else." Saved by his sincerity, Eddie manages to win our sympathy as we soon find ourselves rooting for him and Miranda.

Throughout his far-fetched ordeal, Eddie's sensible sounding board is his crude yet cuddly dad (real-life pop Jerry Stiller) who, while shamefully lecherous and refreshingly uninhibited, nonetheless remains a supportive if pushy parent. Even as he delivers his debauched dialogue, Stiller manages to embody the warm, fuzzy grandpa wannabe.

Together, father and son run the Bay City Sports shop in downtown San Francisco, the city itself a cinematic treat between frenetic mishaps, and the real star of the more tedious urban scenes.

With so many laughs left to gross-out gags, this silly remake relies much too heavily on the shallow antics instead of actually developing any of the intriguing relationships. From language barriers to awkward encounters with Miranda's Mississippi bumpkin relatives, the characters are never left to relax, let alone converse. In fact, the most fluid and lucid exchange of the entire film is induced with the help of a couple of joints at ocean's edge.

Even the super soundtrack -- featuring David Bowie, The Flaming Lips and John Alagia -- cannot altogether balance the wince-worthy action. Instead of some South of the Border fun, we're served up an emotional tequila sunrise: a series of supercharged intimate situations fraught with truly grown-up disappointment, all disguised as college-prank humor.

Once again, the brothers go for the laugh at any cost. And the story just gets dumb and dumber.