Stiller’s new movie breaks fans hearts, can’t compete with ‘The Game Plan’

Kollin Jordan

A disappointing encore to “Night at the Museum,” his highest-grossing film to date, Ben Stiller’s latest box office release, “The Heartbreak Kid,” fell far short of the mark set by its predecessor by taking in a mere $14 million during its debut weekend.

Blame the film’s lack of success on its less-than-substantial story line. Centered around a comfortably jaded middle-aged sporting-goods store owner on a quest for love, “The Heartbreak Kid” leans on its crutches of witty banter and raw humor to conceal a disturbing absence of plot.

The tragic hero in question, played by Stiller, meets a charming young lady and, throwing his predictable inhibitions aside on the advice of a father undergoing a mid-life crisis and a sycophantic best friend, rushes into a hasty marriage with a girl he literally bumped into outside of a laundromat.

When his new wife’s disturbing idiosyncrasies, devious past and psychotic tendencies explode in a geyser of insanity during their honeymoon in Mexico, Stiller serendipitously finds the girl of his dreams splashing in the waves of an idyllic beach and falls madly in love with her.

As the protagonist’s ill-fated attempts to secure happiness are chronicled, the futility of the entire movie becomes increasingly transparent. Taken in isolation, the scenes are good for some cheap laughs, but there is zero coherence to tie them together and give meaning to the work.

A supporting array of characters randomly interspersed adds little more than superficial comic appeal and contributes to the scattered feel of the production. This is not to decry the performance of the cast itself; rather, the actors showcased their skills by adopting their caricatured roles with cogent facility.

Most notable is the up-and-coming starlet Malin Akerman, who takes on her first silver-screen starring role as Stiller’s initial romantic interest in the story. Her character’s senselessly unpredictable behavior, promising only a sizeable dose of violent tirades, is enough to make anyone writhe in mental agony at the thought of such an emotional onslaught.

“The Heartbreak Kid” came in second in the box office in a feeble weekend of debuts, coming in after Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Disney flick “The Game Plan,” which raked in $16.6 million in its second week, according to the Associated Press. Touting a G rating, “The Game Plan” successfully lured elementary school kids and their parents to compete with “The Heartbreak Kid”, which isn’t so family-friendly with its R-rating.

This kind of box office failure can only equal disappointment, if not heartbreak, for Ben Stiller and his cohorts. Admittedly not the worst film of the year, it also couldn’t buy an accolade. If you’re not looking for a raunchy comedy with little purpose other than eliciting gratuitously guilty guffaws, then “The Heartbreak Kid” isn’t for you.