Tuesday, 19 August 2008

There Will Be Blood

Lowdown: An entrepreneur getting into the oil business, serving as an analogy to the corruption that comes with power.
Review:
There Will Be Blood (TWBB) is one of those unique films about which I couldn’t really find a negative review. As in, everyone thinks it's great! That, plus its director – Paul Thomas Anderson, of Magnolia fame – meant I really wanted to watch it.
At its time Magnolia was unique in the way it conjoined different and seemingly unrelated storylines into one. TWBB is also unique but in a different way, to do with its slow and measured pacing. That pacing is augmented by a unique and unnerving score (which could get a bit on one’s nerves but does the job its meant to do). Most of the uniqueness comes from the way the story is told: Especially in the first half of the film, we just get to watch shots of key events taking place, with not much in the way of dialog or explanations. That is, instead of someone saying “I dug for oil yesterday and found it really hard”, the way films often do to improve pacing and reduce tediousness, you see the guy digging for oil and the suffering he goes through.
But I’m ahead of myself. TWBB is the story of Daniel Plainview (performed quite exceptionally by Daniel Day-Lewis). As the film starts we see Plainview digging for gold on his own, some time towards the very end of 19th century's California. He’s not into workplace safety and crap like that, so he gets severely injured while detonating dynamite. So determined is Plainview that he manages to pull himself out of his middle of nowhere pit and crawl from this middle of nowhere to a place that gives him $345 for the gold nugget he has on him; quite a lot of money for the time.
We roll a few years ahead. Plainview used the money earned from his nugget to start an enterprise of his own, this time digging for oil. He still isn't much into health and safety, mishaps happen at the office, and he has himself a child that he grooms.
We roll a few more years into the future and Plainview stumbles on an opportunity to buy cheap land where oil is obviously abundant. Plainview doesn't let much stand in his way to cease control over the land and its oil, semi tricking the people by not really lying to them about their lands' potential but not telling them the truth either, and exploiting everything in order to earn control and power. At this point he gets some opposition in the shape of a young aspiring evangelical priest, aptly names Sunday (in contrast to the aptly named Plainview who is portrayed as a very Social Darwinian agnostic). Sunday is also in a power trip of his own, and he also tries to use the oil for his own private cause; a lot of the film becomes the story of the struggle between the two. Not all of it, though: TWBB is mostly the story of Plainview's eternal struggle for power over everything, living and still, and the toll it has on him and on his surrounding.
By telling us a story that aspires to appear authentic about how the oil industry has started its way, the exploitation that was involved, and how even the morale compass of religion bent down to the power oil has brought with it, TWBB tells us why our world is the way it is today. Why, for example, we continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy when we live on a planet of molten lava and while we have at our disposal a giant fusion reactor eternally above us. According to TWBB, it's the power that comes to those in charge of the oil that drives them crazy with maintaining it, while we are too dumb to notice we're being exploited to be left with nothing but arid land at the end (which is not too far). Ultimately, TWBB is a story on human nature and its susceptibility for corruption when superior power is there to be had. The analogy with oil is good, the historical part of it is interesting, but the question remains - is TWBB a good film to watch, as in - do you enjoy watching it?
The answer to that question is a mixed bag. With its unique anachronistic style, TWBB is interesting. The performances are good, too. Then again, it's too weird, and with all due respect it's not the first film on how power corrupts humans. If anything, it's not that particularly good in the "power corrupts" genre, simply because its hero - Plainview - becomes more and more a mental case rather than a true villain. Around the halfway mark, and especially towards the end, the question of Plainview's rising level of evil loses interest and you just want the film to get on with it and see how Plainview copes with Sunday. To be honest, towards the end of the film Sunday seems to be forced on the film rather than an integrated part of it.
Best scenes: In order to secure the land he needs to run an oil pipeline, Plainview repents before god in the church of his archenemy, Sunday. He obviously hates every minute of it, but in order to get his reward he will do all it takes.
A notable feature on the DVD is the 15 minute special that compares authentic material from the early 20th century's oil digging days to the way the film portrays it, showing us just how authentic the film is. The sets, the characters, the motions, they're all based on real stuff. Quite amazing! This reminds me how photos my parents took of California in the seventies were full of oil drills; now almost all of them are gone as we've dug up almost all of the oil in the area. We humans are such idiots.
Overall: Quality wise, and with the arty way it was done, TWBB is a 3.5 stars film. I, however, liked it 3 out of 5 stars much.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

River Out of Eden by Richard Dawkins

Lowdown: Dawkins for beginners.
Review:
By now, whenever I approach a Richard Dawkins book I feel this phobia. Experience shows that reading a Dawkins book can be truly awesome experience; yet how long can the guy pull through? He has to have a dud in his history. And if there is a dud, it had to be River Out of Eden: published in 1995, before Dawkins' more popular releases (e.g., The God Delusion) but after the serious ones that established his reputation (e.g., The Selfish Gene), River Out of Eden stands out as a transition phase work. It's only 190 pages or so long; thrown in amongst those pages are pictures, and not serious scientific ones at that; and the font is on the larger side of things. As I picked River Out of Eden at the shop, for the sole reason that it was written by Dawkins and not because I have heard of it before, I sort of thought this book is Dawkins' kids version of a book.
Well, I was right and I was wrong. River Out of Eden continues the trend of Dawkins' excellent books, on one side, but on the other side it is also Dawkins' most approachable book thus far (at least by my limited experience). If you want to introduce someone to Dawkins and if you don't think they'd cope with the depth of The Selfish Gene, give them River Out of Eden instead; the ideas and the themes are similar, more or less, but River is that much easier to digest.
Even before starting to describe what River Out of Eden is all about, I already gave away the book's main potential issue: In pretty much all of his books, Dawkins is repetitively advocating the same things; the main difference between the books is the way in which he chooses to advocates his themes. Read enough of Dawkins' books and you'll encounter repetition. This, however, is not necessarily a drawback, certainly not when judging River Out of Eden in its own rights.
The themes Dawkins goes through in River Out of Eden are his usual themes in support of evolution by natural selection and a designer-less world view. River Out of Eden starts by providing a brief explanation on how evolution works at the gene level through the flowing/branching river of genes analogy that gave the book its title. It then explains how evolution can tell us a lot about us and what we are and goes on to provide Dawkins' evidence supported views on the nature of nature and the way a designer god doesn't really fit the picture, not in the least, whereas the theory of evolution explains it all and explains it well.
In typical Dawkins fashion, the fashion that has made Dawkins so great in my humble opinion, explanations are easy to understand regardless of their complexity. That talent of Dawkins' is not to be underestimated; if only more of my teachers and lecturers were like him. Not only are Dawkins' explanations easy to digest, they're also thrilling to read and ponder about: like most of his other books, River Out of Eden reads more like a thriller than the popular science book it is.
Two sections of the book have caught me the most. The first is Dawkins' witty answer to the accusation that pops up quite often, whereas scientists who defend science against religion are counter-argued that science is just another religion. I won't bother specifying Dawkins' reply here, as I am sure I will have plenty of opportunities to do so when I'm next accused of being a zealot practitioner of the religion of science.
The second section that caught me is Dawkins' explanation on the Mythical Eve experiment. You probably heard of Mythical Eve: It's basically this urban myth about how all of us have descended from this one woman that lived a couple of hundreds of thousand years ago, a woman so unique that many compare her to the Bible's Eve. Well, Dawkins has some clarifications to make on our behalf, and I'm happy to say he certainly fixed some bugs in my understanding of this Eve story. It goes like this: Some 25 years ago or so, DNA samples from many indigenous women was analyzed in order to find their most recent common ancestor. The research compared variations in mitochondria DNA to find that our most recent common ancestor of the female line lived some 250,000 years ago (give or take a generous safety margin); but that's it. That woman that lived some 250,000 years ago was not unique in anything from her peers, nor was she alone in this world; she was just "lucky" enough for her descendants to be able to propagate her genes all over the place while her peers weren't as lucky. More than that, we are all very likely to have a much more recent common ancestor than this Eve; Eve is our most common ancestor on the female only line, that is - the line that goes from mother to mother to mother etc without involving fathers at all. But the female only line is just one of many many potential lines.
If you didn't understand my point then by all means, go and read River Out of Eden. What I am trying to demonstrate with the Eve example is Dawkins' uncanny ability to explain things well and to explain them the way they are, as opposed to creating some myth around them; and in doing so, he makes it all that much more magical than the mythical, yet false, interpretation.
Overall: A thrill from start to finish that is warmly recommended to everyone who wants to acquire a quick yet definitive answer to questions about the nature of this world and our place in it. 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Rush Hour 3

Lowdown: A remake of the first Rush Hour.
Review:
The first Rush Hour was an excellent film. True, it didn’t break new ground in the art of cinema, but it had a fine mixture of action scenes and good jokes that blended together to create simple yet superb entertainment. Personally, it was the film that first made me love Jackie Chan in the sense that it made me appreciate Chan as a great entertainer. Question is, following its rather disappointing sequel, can Rush Hour 3 make amends and properly revive the series?
On the face of it, the odds against RH3 are immense. It’s not just another sequel; it’s almost ten years now since the first hour rushed. Chan, for example, isn’t getting any younger; there are more cuts in his stunts than ever before now, with some typical signs of not-so-great action movie making obviously visible: Chan falls, a cut comes in just before he hits the ground, and the next thing we know Chan is up on his feet. Chris Tucker, Chan’s partner in crime (they’re both policemen), has put many a kilo since their last time together, too. Rush Hour 3 could have well been a geriatric’s reunion.
As with the previous two Rush Hours, number 3’s plot is as contrived as and as senseless as. It doesn’t even try to get away with it; it is in your face senseless. The film starts with Tucker being fired from the police force, and the next thing we know he’s on a plane next to Chan as they fly to Paris to save the day from a Chinese crime syndicate – while carrying guns on board the flights. Senselessness is even more obvious at an earlier scene where Chan and Tucker visit a kung-fu school to acquire information from friendlies and just seem to be forced into a fight with the locals through a stubbornly lackluster script.
In fact, there’s not much use in me recounting Rush Hour’s plot in the first place; it’s only there as a cheap excuse to put Chan and Tucker in funny situations that challenge Chan’s physical skills and Tucker’s big mouth.
Still, with all of its deficiencies, Rush Hour 3 does make amends for the series and does end up being good light entertainment. The filmmakers managed to achieve that by doing something very simple: copying the first Rush Hour almost one to one, with the notable difference of setting some significant parts of the film in Paris. The crime victims are actually the same people from the first film (only older), and the villain – although different – fits just perfectly to the template set by Tom Wilkinson as the first film’s villain.
And you know what? It just works, because at the base of it all Chan is still an incredible action performer, as is obvious from the film’s numerous action scenes, and Tucker is still very funny, as is also obvious from the film’s numerous action scenes. Let loose to do their stuff under very simple premises, like they did in the first Rush but like they didn’t in the second, they come up with the goods.
Best scenes:
It’s hard to choose between the candidates, so I’ll just call several best scenes.
First there are the scenes featuring Roman Polanski’s cameos. It’s hard to believe it’s the same guy that did The Pianist, but yes, he made me laugh even before he started doing anything.
Second, there is the scene in involving the French taxi driver escorting our couple around Paris. The guy envies Chan and Tucker and wishes to learn how to become American and kill people. So much so, he says, that he even drinks Starbucks shit! Coming shortly after Starbucks decided to call Australia quits and close most of its eighty plus Australian branches, one can easily identify with the joke: Australians seem to agree with the French when it comes to the quality of coffee served at Starbucks.
Overall: Who cares about originality and substance when a good laugh is at hand? 3 enjoyable stars out of 5.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Beowulf

Lowdown: A grandiose Lord of the Rings type tale told using computer game animation.
Review:
A new take on Beowulf? Do we really need another Bear-Wolf after the dreadful 1999 version featuring Christopher Lambert? Let’s be honest, the guy should have retired after the original Highlander; and you will be right in assuming that as a direct result my expectations of the new Beowulf have been very were low indeed.
The 2007 model Beowulf takes place in Denmark at around the time the Roman Empire decided to implement Christianity in order to improve its rule. Uncle Anthony Hopkins is the old King of Denmark, a very successful veteran of wars who builds a great hall to celebrate his victories in a very visceral and explicit way. However, a monster called Grendel that roams around Hopkins’ capital city cannot stand the noise and attacks; it leaves carnage behind and exposes Hopkins’ big cover up: the elderly king does not have an heir to take his place, estranged as he is with his beautiful and young wife (Robin Wright Penn). You may as well say the king is cursed.
Hopkins decides that enough is enough, and announces he would give half his treasures away to whoever gets rid of Grendel. And Beowulf heeds: together with a band of ferocious heroes he crosses the seas at great peril to face Grendel.
As we learn more about Beowulf we start feeling that he is, indeed, a ferocious hero that does not hesitate the put life and limb at risk if potential glory is at hand. However, we also sense that glory is of utmost importance to Beowulf, so important that some wrong doing in the way to glory is perfectly acceptable.
Beowulf quickly encounters Grendel, and living up to his word manages to get rid of it. However, vengeance comes quickly when the super monster that is Grendel’s mother (Angelina Jolie) strikes back while showing no mercy. Now Beowulf has to face this much greater challenge; will he stand up to it or will he fall for the temptations of power?
Unlike its previous incarnation, the new Beowulf film is not lacking in the plot department. It deals with some interesting motifs and deals with them well: in a similar way to Lord of the Rings, Beowulf’s characters fall for the temptation of power and believe they will use their power for good when, in fact, they end up doing the opposite; by the time they realize their mistakes it’s too late, and thus even the mightiest fall. Beowulf also reminds us that history repeats itself and that mistakes done in the past will be repeated unless we are powerful enough to realize their potency and to suspend our thirst for power. When the end credits came up and the name Neil Gaiman of Stardust glory popped with writing credit things become clearer; I had identified the source of potency in Beowulf’s story.
While the story side of things is on the better side of average, Beowulf’s execution into a film is severely lacking. The main thing about Beowulf the film is not its plot or its characters/actors but rather the way it was filmed. Director Robert Zemeckis was always into exploring new technologies at the price of quality film making (e.g., Who Framed Roger Rabbit); in Beowulf, Zemeckis follows up on where he left with Polar Express. Thus Beowulf is shot with real actors wearing motion capturing equipment on key areas of their bodies, which are then translated into computer animation. The problem is that while some of the computer animation looks stunning and some of it looks authentic some of the time, neither happens all of the time. Most of the time we’re stuck with a picture that looks like something coming directly out of the computer gaming scene, where motion capture is widely used as a cheap way of generating relatively sophisticated animation. The key problem is with movement: because there are no motion capturing facilities to capture everything taking place with a moving human, especially facial gestures, characters appear very jerky and viewers’ attention is diverted from where it should be in the first place. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s very annoying!
It’s important to stress that Beowulf was prepared with a 3D presentation in mind, probably in IMAX theaters. Maybe it works in 3D; given that I only got to watch the DVD I can’t say that I know nor care.
Worst scene:
Despite being an animation film, its horror elements mean Beowulf is not a kids’ film. There is also some sexuality/nudity involved, with Jolie in particular, but because of the nature of the animation it doesn’t feel erotic. Still, for some elusive reason, the film adopts a double standard when it comes to sexuality.
In the fight scene between Beowulf and Grendel, Beowulf decides to go naked in order to defeat the monster in its own terms after others failed to do so using sword and spear. The lengths with which Beowulf the film goes about hiding Beowulf the character’s private parts from us viewers are nothing short of amazing and often more laughable than the similar yet intentional Austin Powers jokes.
Why was that so necessary? It’s certainly very distracting.
Overall: Rating Beowulf comes down to the balance between its good story and its annoying execution, which I suspect would vary a lot with personal preferences. My personal approach is to be very generous and grant Beowulf 3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Juno

Lowdown: A pregnant teenager expose the dysfunction around her.
Review:
Since it came out to the cinemas towards the end of 2007, Juno became one of those films you only hear good stuff about. Most of that stuff said that Juno is one hell of a comedy that's just a must watch - for whatever it's worth the film has even won an Oscar and had multiple nominations - so when Juno came out on DVD and I could finally watch it I didn't wait long before renting it.
Juno tells the story of Juno, played very well by Ellen Page whom I don't really recall seeing before. Juno is an independent teenager living with her father, her stepmother and her stepsister. Yes, as expected, they're a dysfunctional family.
The story starts with Juno finding out she's pregnant. The would be father is clueless; the option of abortion does not appeal to Juno because of the nature of the abortion clinics; and thus Juno decides to have the baby and let it go for adoption to this couple she finds in a newspaper ad. We discover the pair, Jeniffer Garner and Jason Bateman (rekindling their cooperation in The Kingdom) have issues of their own, but Juno helps them make the most of things. Juno also opens up to her own family and wins their cooperation. The film then follows the events that take place up until shortly after the birth itself.
Up until I got to watch Juno I was under the impression this is a comedy, and a good one at it given the reviews I read. I beg to differ, though: while Juno has some comedy in it, nothing in it managed more than a smile. No, in my book Juno is a drama. But it's not what it may seem to be at first; this is not a story about the tragedy of a clueless girl getting herself pregnant while she's a teenager and how her life got broken as a result. Instead, Juno is the story about a resourceful teenager which gets herself unintentionally pregnant but instead of losing herself she uses her wits to fix up all of the dysfunctionality issues around her. As evidenced through the film disposing of the abortion option way too quickly, the pregnancy thing and the baby are just the tool used by the film in order to show how a girl can sort up those around her.
Now for the trick question: did I like Juno? Well, the film failed to inspire me. Sure, the story was nice and witty; but the film failed to capture me. Try as I may, I just couldn't identify with the the events taking place. I can't really pinpoint my problem; could it be that the film is too American for me to identify with the culture on display? Probably, but I strongly suspect that the biggest problem is that Juno is too "Generation Y" oriented and I'm just not compatible with the Y state of mind. To quote Danny Glvoer, I'm too old for this shit.
On a positive note, I would like to mention J. K. Simmons who appears as Juno's father. The guy's more familiar as Spiderman's Daily Bugle editor, but my point is that he's an excellent comedian with a great sense of timing.
Annoying scene: Generally speaking, the pregnancy side of things is well portrayed in Juno. However, the film does revert to the classic giving birth film cliches, such as "step on it dad" when Juno's due to go to the hospital (speed is probably the worst thing at that time, and there's definitely no reason to hurry), then cutting to the classic two second "push - push" scene followed by a baby popping up in a much more active way then they do in real life.
I know I'm being harsh here, but these scenes hurt the rest of this pretty authentic feeling film for me.
Overall: I appreciate Juno being a 3 stars film, but I disliked it enough to give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Logan's Run

Lowdown: The Island on drugs.
Review:
I don't think you can say I'm a fan of Michael Bay; his films are heavy on commercialism and low on originality. Some of his films are still okay, and The Island is one of them. Watching Logan's Run I realized where Bay got his inspiration for The Island from. Not only that, I also got to appreciate Michael Bay much more than before, simply because Logan's Run is quite a bad film.
Logan's Run is a 1976 science fiction film featuring Michael York as its star. As the caption at the beginning of the film tells us, the film takes place in the 23rd century. After wars have ruined the planet, people are living inside domes where all their needs are taken care of by machines. The only catch is that no one makes it past 30 unless they get chosen by The Carousel.
As the film starts we see what this Carousel is all about. A group of people go into it in order to perform some rite while the rest of the dome's population watches as one by one they get killed by a mysterious psychedelic revolving killer beam. Those, it turned out, were the people who got to the age of 30; it also turns out none of them was chosen by The Carousel to live past 30.
Some of the population do not like the prospect of dying at 30, so they choose to run away. However, running away is hard, because they all got this tracking devices on them, and because there is a special police to track and kill the runners. Michael York is a member of this special police force, and he kills the runners with much delight; he really enjoys it.
But then this coincidence happens: York meets this girl that dares to ask questions about the way people live and the things they do in their lives; she's saying things she should not be saying, like her not wanting to die at the age of 30. At first York laughs her off, but then the computer running the show pits him in a tough situation: in order for him to track a group of successful runners, it changes York's status to be a Carousel candidate and it asks him to use the desperation in his own situation in order to track the runners. York accepts the mission, and his only lead is that questioning girl. Together, they become runners and find that the outside world is not as bad as they were made to think; the question is where York's loyalties lie.
On paper, Logan's Run sounds like a terrific film on conformism, its dangers and the value of questioning. Alas, Logan's Run suffers in so many departments the film's message is never really felt until you find yourself summarizing the film while writing down a review.
Where can I start? Well, if I start chronologically, then the first problem is with the special effects; they are, well, crap. You can clearly see that all the city wide shots of the domes and such are miniature shots, and quite silly ones at that. Sure, I'm calling things from today's digital infested special effects world where everything looks so clinically correct, but those effects were crap even by 1976 standards. Remember, this film called Star Wars that had pretty good special effects was also released in 1976. Overall, Logan's Run suffers from relatively poor production values; these were probably good enough for 1976, but time didn't do them much good.
Then there's a very simple that is never answered: Why the hell do the people get killed when they reach 30 in the first place? I realize that a part of the film's appeal is that the film's population never bothers asking this question, but that doesn't mean the film should get away with not providing an answer, at least to explain what made the concept take off in the first place. I would say this is the most obvious difference between Logan and The Island, because in The Island the reason is vital to the film's development.
Moving on, there are so many things in the film that just don't make sense I won't even pretend to be able to come up with a comprehensive list. As I don't want to spoil too much of the film, I'll settle with one clear example: After Logan escapes the dome to the outside world he finds this old man, Peter Ustinov, who spends his time talking nonsense and feeding his cats. Now, if you're the only person in the world around you, how come you can afford to talk bullshit and feed your cats? You would have to work day and night just to supply your own food requirements.
Worst scenes: The scenes where the music is too loud, which represent quite a significant portion of the film. The music is screeching and annoying psychedelic sixties stuff; that said, it fits the general spirit of the film in that it's just as crappy as the film it accompanies.
Overall: The idea is nice, but instead of appreciating the idea you just end up feeling like the movie makers were on drugs when they made Logan. 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, 1 August 2008

The Heartbreak Kid

Lowdown: A married guy falls for another woman. During his honeymoon.
Review:
Like them or not, I do not think there can be much dispute on There’s Something about Mary being the peak of the Farrelly brothers’ achievements this far. Personally, not many a film made me laugh as much as Mary did when I saw it at Times Square back in 1998 (where did those ten years disappear to?).
In their latest, The Heartbreak Kid, the brothers have re-collaborated with Mary’s star, Ben Stiller; and to further emphasize their position, they’ve thrown in Stiller’s father, Jerry Stiller (immortalized as George Costanza’s father). Ben & Jerry have already collaborated in the legendary Zoolander. I have to say those renewed collaborations worked: The Heartbreak Kid is a very funny film, a comedy that breaks some new grounds, and the Farrelly’s second best film thus far.
Stiller is once again a very flawed hero. This time around he doesn’t hire a detective to do his work for him, though. Stiller is the owner of a sports shop in San Francisco, he’s around 40 or so (give or take some makeup), and he’s on his own. His ex fiancĂ©, which he left for no particular reason other than him being unable to commit to anything and to stop searching for the negatives in her, gets married as the film starts. We are introduced to Stiller’s best friends as they mock him when he gets seated at the kids’ table during the wedding ceremony.
Salvation comes when Stiller tries to help this very wow looking chick who gets mugged in the street (and let me tell you, at that stage of the film it feels as if every shot is there to give you a glimpse of some San Francisco views; not that there’s anything wrong with that). Stiller misses out on getting the chick’s details, but eventually she visits him at his store and they fall for one another.
They fall for one another, but they don’t really know one another. They don’t even have sex because the chick doesn’t want to rush into it. Quickly enough, though, work orders the chick to move to Rotterdam, and the only way in which the couple can stay together and the relocation can be cancelled is through marriage. And yes, Stiller takes the plunge and gets married.
Which is when the film really starts. As the wedding ceremony commences, Stiller meets the chick’s ugly mother, not a good indicator for his wife’s future looks. As they drive to their honeymoon destination in Mexico, the new wife drives Stiller crazy with her singing to the car radio. And so on and so on: Before you can say Blue Steel, Stiller has changed his mind about the whole wedding thing. His ongoing fears about marriage have, indeed, materialized.
Which is when he meets Michelle Monaghan (whom I remember quite favorably from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) at his honeymoon resort. Circumstances cause them to bump into one another, and the more Stiller bumps into Monaghan the more he realizes that she is, indeed, the one he should have been with. Or is she? And what of his wife?
All of the above sets the stage wide open for a collection of Farrelly brothers type jokes. Some are silly, some are hilarious. The overall feeling, though, is quite good: between the grotesque characters of Stiller’s real life father and Stiller’s wife, Stiller’s nasty betrayal on his wife passes by while we, the viewers, actually identify with him. The Monaghan romance is charming, especially as it involves plenty of soft jokes on Southerner’s IQ.
Ultimately, The Heartbreak Kid is a pleasure to watch. Not the deepest film ever, excuse the understatement, but a very funny film – exactly what most of us need most of the time.
Memorable scenes:
I've said earlier that The Heartbreak Kid breaks new ground as a comedy, and now it's time for me to explain. The most unique element about the film, in its context of being an American comedy, is that the humor doesn't end when the characters enter the bedroom and there is no cut when they enter the bed. Heartbreak Kid features sex scenes and even a bit of nudity. This is no porn, but it's much more than you usually see in American cinema; kudos to the Farrelly brothers for not caring about offending a few pure souls. The sex scenes are probably the most memorable ones in the film, mainly because they are so unique. You can argue that these scenes are just an extension of the Farrely brothers' history of gross escapades, but I would argue they significantly enhance the film - they progress the plot and they are hilarious. That, plus the fact a bit of nudity never hurt no one.
Overall: The Heartbreak Kid is a good laugh and a very welcomed trend in comedy. 3.5 out of 5 stars.