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The Heartbreak Kid
Ben Stiller and the Farrelly brothers bring out the best in each other. In The Heartbreak Kid, Stiller plays Eddie Cantrow, who--persuaded by his father and friends that he's commitment-phobic--marries a gorgeous and seemingly ideal woman named Lila (Malin Akerman, The Brothers Solomon) that he's been dating for several weeks. But after the wedding, things start to go awry... the least of these being that on their honeymoon, Eddie meets a woman who might truly be the girl of his dreams (Michelle Monaghan, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). As in There's Something About Mary, writers/directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly push Stiller away from his increasingly schticky "tense guy" persona and draw out his sweeter, more multilayered earnest side. On his end, Stiller provides a human core to what could just be a festival of raunch and absurdity (the movie features aroused donkeys, deviated septum jokes, and digitally-enhanced body hair, among other items of questionable taste). It only takes a quick comparison with Jim Carrey in Me, Myself & Irene or Jack Black in Shallow Hal to see what a surprisingly delicate balance that is. The Heartbreak Kid may not be quite as wildly sublime as There's Something About Mary, but it comes extremely close, with kudos to Akerman for her unrestrained nuttiness. --Bret Fetzer
Meet the Parents
Randy Newman's opening song, "A Fool in Love," perfectly sets up the movie that follows. The lyrics begin, "Show me a man who is gentle and kind, and I'll show you a loser," before praising the man who takes what he wants. Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) is the fool in love in Meet the Parents. Just as he's about to propose to his girlfriend Pam (Teri Polo), he learns that her sister's fiancé asked their father, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), for permission to marry. Now he feels the need to do the same thing. When Greg meets Jack, he is so desperate to be liked that he makes up stories and kisses ass rather than having the courage of his convictions. It doesn't take an elite member of the CIA to see right through Greg, but that's precisely what Jack is. Directed by Jay Roach (the Austin Powers movies), Meet the Parents is an incredibly well-crafted comedy that stands in nice opposition to, say, the sloppy extremes of the Farrelly brothers. Stiller is great at playing up the uncomfortable comedy of errors, balancing just the right amount of selfishness and self-deprecating humour, while De Niro's Jack is funny as the hard-ass father who just wants a few straight answers from the kid. What makes the Jack character all the funnier is Blythe Danner as his wife, the Gracie to his George Burns, who is the true heart of the movie. Oh, and Owen Wilson turns in yet another terrific comic performance as Pam's ex-fiancé. --Andy Spletzer
Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), pampered action superstar, sets out for Southeast Asia to take part in the biggest, most-expensive war movie produced, but soon after filming begins, he and his co-stars, Oscar-winner Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), comic Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) and the rest of the crew, must become real soldiers when fighting breaks out in that part of the jungle.
Charge your micro-mini cell phones and whip up some orange mocha Frappuccino, 'cuz Zoolander is on the runway, and you're gonna laugh your booty off! Based on a sketch created by writer-director Ben Stiller and cowriter Drake Sather for the 1996 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, Zoolander is a delirious send-up of New York's fashion scene as epitomised by male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller), a dimwitted preener who's oblivious to a Manchurian Candidate-like plot to turn him into a brainwashed assassin. Tipped off by a reporter (Christina Taylor), Zoolander teams with rival model Hansel (Owen Wilson) to foil the poodle-haired fashion designer (Will Ferrell) who's behind the nefarious scheme. The goofy plot's only half the fun; with roles for Stiller's parents (Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara), dozens of celebrity cameos, endlessly quotable dialogue, and improvisational energy to spare, Zoolander is very smart about being very stupid, easily matching the Austin Powers franchise for inspired comedic lunacy. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.