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Three days into his Miami honeymoon, New York Jewish Lenny meets tall, blonde Kelly. This confirms him in his opinion that he has made a serious mistake and he decides he wants Kelly instead. Her rich father is less than keen and lets everyone - including Lenny - know that he hates everything about him and the way he is going on. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Charles Grodin plays a Jewish New Yorker who takes his earthy new bride to Miami for their honeymoon, but becomes increasingly disillusioned with her on the trip--most especially because of a flirty, leggy blonde from Minnesota whom he meets on the beach. With Neil Simon writing this screenplay, one is almost instantly aware not of the class issue (it doesn't matter to Simon who has more money than who) but of the Jewish angle. Simon makes the bride gross and vulgar, and Jeannie Berlin has been encouraged to play these non-attributes to the hilt, while Cybill Shepherd's Protestant sex-goddess is the epitome of sarcastic poise. Simon wins points against the new wife by playing up her Jewishness in all its stereotypical brashness; it's as if the volume is up too loud. "The Heartbreak Kid" has many things going for it--the excellent performances and some very humorous asides to name two--but the intentional lewdness behind Grodin's marital predicament, and the queasy way he ingratiates himself into Shepherd's family, isn't so much hilarious as it is cringe-inducing. Shepherd's no-nonsense father, wonderfully played in an I've-seen-everything-now way by Eddie Albert, reacts accordingly to Grodin's new proposals with anger and confusion, and in these instances the film touches on something much deeper than the modern Jewish man's internal struggle. Unfortunately, this is mainly what Simon has on his plate, and it wears the audience down--and seems very dated now, anyway. Elaine May's direction is fashionably ragged and somewhat detached, and her ending is thoughtful (if, in retrospect, uneventful). The story certainly needed a modern tweaking, as this version is just a little bit undernourished (more mean-spirited than funny), however a 2007 remake fared even worse. **1/2 from ****
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