The “Travis Bickle” date movie

Based on an innocent 1972 film by the same name, the Farrelly brothers’s remake of The Heartbreak Kid twists its ideal premise (meeting Miss Right after marrying Miss Wrong) into sordid, romantic comedy squalor.

Something terribly upsetting is happening with so-called romantic comedies these days. They have degenerated, like inbred anteaters, into grotesqueries such as Knocked Up and Good Luck Chuck. Note to guys: These movies are not what your sweethearts have in mind when they say they want to see a "chick flick."

For your convenience, the following are good choices for romantic dates: Becoming Jane, The Lake House, Waitress and No Reservations.

It’s not that The Heartbreak Kid doesn’t have some funny parts, because it does, especially if you enjoy an exasperated Ben Stiller’s "anger humor." But when a movie’s message seems to be, "Don’t get married; and if you do make that mistake, leave your spouse for someone that you like better whenever the goin’ gets tough," it quickly becomes disheartening. Can you see why this might not make a good date movie?

Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) is a single man in San Francisco who’s getting older and feeling pressure to settle down. His old flame is getting married. Eddie’s vile father (Jerry Stiller) harasses him with even viler words about his "deficit of nighttime companionship." And his best friend (whose marriage is horrifying) unconvincingly pushes him to experience the joys of a nuptial union.

At about this time, Eddie meets Lila (Malin Akerman). She seems like the perfect gal. So, after a brief courtship and intense prodding from his cohorts, Eddie marries Lila, a woman he hardly knows. As their honeymoon to Mexico begins, Eddie quickly learns revolting revelations about his new bride. But amid his increasing misery, he discovers Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) the one he should have married.

Aside from its thematic moral offenses that won’t offend everyone, where The Heartbreak Kid derails, killing goats, kittens and small children, is when we’re shown not one but two graphic glimpses of Lila’s alarming, aberrant bedroom behavior. These scenes single-handedly ruin the movie, for they are neither comedic nor romantic; they forsake this genre and would be more at home in an explicit horror film or some NC-17 piece of trash.

Were it not for these scenes, The Heartbreak Kid would be decent. But even its underlying messages would be unsettling to those who have "traditional, middle-American values."

Despite this lapse, the Farrelly brothers have a talent for comedy, even romantic comedy. Their movie, Fever Pitch, one of the best comedies of 2005, should not be forgotten. Indeed, it can be added to the favorable, heartwarming, humorous date movies listed above, outshining the likes of The Heartbreak Kid in its dismal dregs below.

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