by MARYANN JOHANSON & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & 'll say this about the Farrelly Brothers, those potty-mouthed harbingers of the doom of what might once have been called American culture: They don't rest on their laurels. Bobby and Peter Farrelly may have almost single-handedly reduced the multiplex to a cesspool of explosive defecation and below-the-belt indignity. But they're not content to stop there. They could get away with just flogging the same horse of humiliation with every single damn one of their revolting movies, but no! They strive for newer and deeper depths of disgust.
They've achieved it here, with their latest, The Heartbreak Kid, which is based on the 1972 movie -- and Neil Simon's 1972 screenplay -- in much the same way that a breakfast of Pop Tarts and Mountain Dew is based on a petit dejeuner of fresh-baked croissants and cafe au lait.
For one, they discovered a whole new bodily orifice fresh for the ravaging: the nose. That's right. The Farrellys have invented the nasal rape. Oh, not rape with the human appendage typically utilized in that crime. (That would be disgusting.) No, it's just nasal violation with giant medical pills, various edibles and more. The Farrellys really, really love the idea of stuff violently rammed up people's noses.
And then the boys discovered a whole new repulsive low to which they could take their "hero." Ben Stiller's Eddie Cantrow is one of the most vile characters ever produced by a purported comedy, a man who deliberately sabotages the career of the woman he claims to be madly in love with, lies effortlessly to her, subjects her to his relentless passive-aggressive faux nice-guy shtick, tires of her almost instantly, and moves on to the next babe, because this new one is simply perfect and the love of his life and his soul mate. Just like the previous one.
In the world of the Farrellys, though, that's OK -- they don't think Eddie is vile -- because women are crazy psychopaths who hold men under their complete and utter sway. (Eddie's best friend, Mac [Rob Corddry], is kept on a short leash by his Stepford wife, who regularly interrupts his guy time with cell phone calls that ring using theme music from the Wicked Witch of the West.) Women are awful, but they are trials men are meant to endure, so who's to blame Eddie for being such a jerk? He's driven to it by women.
Not that women have it easy in the Farrellys' world. There's a very narrow range of what's acceptable in a Farrelly woman: Don't be too funny, 'cause it makes a gal "mannish"; don't let your body be too natural (it's gross if you're not shaved pubescent-smooth "down there") but don't be too unnatural, either (huge fake boobs are freakin' scary). If you want to be just barely tolerable to Farrelly men, ladies, try guessing.
The guys won't tell you, because in Farrelly Land, men and women don't talk. Not even to their spouses. Eddie, pressured to conform and give in to a commitment to one of these hideous monsters, goes off the deep end and proposes marriage to Lila (Malin Akerman) just six weeks into their whirlwind romance. On their honeymoon in Mexico, it becomes clear how much they have not talked about: their jobs, their money, and sex. Not that those kinds of things are important or anything in a marriage.
But it's funny, see, 'cause the Farrellys say it is, that Lila is a sweet and demure lady while dating Eddie, who wants not to rush into sleeping with him so as not to ruin their budding relationship, but who then morphs into a wild, rutting animal the moment they're hitched. It doesn't matter that it makes no sense that between the proposal of marriage and the obviously planned-out wedding, they didn't find some time to finally consummate their (we're told) deep and miraculous love. It doesn't matter that while Eddie is allowed flaws that, in the eyes of the Farrellys, make him charming and human, Lila is just a freak, and nothing approaching a real person; neither is Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), whom Eddie falls instantly head-over-heels for while Lila is recovering from massive sunburn in their honeymoon suite. They're only women, after all, and not as important as "humanizing" Eddie by making him suffer at their hands.
See, the movie opens at the wedding of Eddie's ex, whose father, in his reception speech, praises his little girl's new spouse by saying that he's the first guy she ever dated who wasn't a "total asshole." This is meant to insult Eddie, because he was one of those old boyfriends, and meant to endear him to us, somehow. But the accidental misogyny of a father insulting his own daughter by belittling her relationships? Why, that's just a bonus.