After her brilliant career in a comedy duo with Mike Nichols, Elaine May made tentative progress as a director, making only four films between 1971 and 1987 (her last being the disastrous but underrated Ishtar). Released ... more »in 1972, The Heartbreak Kid (from a screenplay by Neil Simon) is widely considered her best work from behind the camera, and it's still one of the most accomplished--but least recognized--comedies of the 1970s. Charles Grodin landed one of his best roles as Lenny, a newlywed husband who meets a gorgeous blonde (Cybill Shepherd) while on his honeymoon, and finds his new bride, Lila (played by May's daughter, Jeannie Berlin), unappealing by comparison. When Lila is forced to rest with a severe case of sunburn, Lenny's free to pursue his new interest, oblivious to the manipulative games that he'll soon be subjected to. May and screenwriter Simon draw plenty of pain, awkwardness, and embarrassment from hilarious situations, giving this comedy a perceptive awareness of human foibles and unchecked desires. It's a newlywed's worst nightmare come true, made enjoyable because we're watching it happen to someone else. Grodin's a prime choice of casting for expressing the movie's lusty anxiety--he's a schmuck, but you can still sympathize with the anguish he's brought on himself. --Jeff Shannon« less
"Jewish boy marries within his faith and within days desires to be within the bikini bottom of a blonde Minnesota princess. A remarkable 70s survey of stupidity, the sunburned Florida dream, and WASP conversational wastelands. The performances, sets and costumes are worth the price of admission. And the "pecan pie" scene in which Lenny (Grodin) dumps his dumpy new wife (Berlin) in front of the wait staff and patrons of a cheesy seafood restaurant: priceless."
A Great American Comedy
skipmccoy | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thankfully, Anchor Bay(Genuises!!!) has re-issued this classic comedy with a nice widescreen transfer. It's a fantastic film and deserves a nice dvd. Though the dvd has little in the way of extras, I was still pleased as it one of my favorite films. I rank it right up there with great American comedies like ANNIE HALL. It's certainly the darkest stuff that Neil Simon's ever had a hand in. Grodin, Berlin, Albert and Shepherd-they're all excellent here. A great film from a great female directorial voice(Elaine May-who also directed A NEW LEAF with Walter Matthau-why is there no dvd for that film yet!). At a low list price, this film is impossible to pass up on dvd!"
"There is no deceit in the cauliflower."
GLBT | Illinois | 02/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Charles Grodin is hilarious (as are his sideburns) and pathetic as a man who, while on his honeymoon, falls in love with another woman. He decides to prove himself to Cybil Shepard (the woman he's fallen in love with) and her father (rich, conservative, loathes Grodin) by leaving his wife in mid-honeymoon and following Cybil and her family back to Minnesota and trying to win her hand in marriage.Classic lines include: "Don't... don't do that, honey. Don't ever put a Milky Way in someone's mouth when they don't want it." and "There is no deceit in the cauliflower."One thing I found surprising about this movie is that Charles Grodin's character isn't really all that likable. For that matter, pretty much everyone in this film is somewhat morally bankrupt. Not that that's a bad thing... it just surprised me because the screenplay is by Neil Simon, whose stuff tends to be a bit lighter. All in all, this is definitely worth seeking out... it'll take you back to the days when movie-makers actually knew how to make a comedy that was FUNNY..."
A Qualified Winner
dev1 | Baltimore | 12/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On the surface, The Heartbreak Kid is a small movie with a simple plot. Lenny (Charles Grodin) dumps his wife (Lila played by Jeannie Berlin) of five days to pursue a beautiful coed (Kelly played by Cybill Shepherd). Standing between Lenny and Kelly is Kelly's possessive father (Mr. Corcoran). Character portrayal is almost perfect. Charles Grodin is convincing as the self-centered and reckless Lenny. Finding an actress more capable of playing the naive and boy-teasing Kelly (Cybill Shepherd) would have been very difficult. Eddie Albert (Mr. Corcoran) stands like a brick wall between Lenny and his conquest (Kelly).More interesting than the character portrayal and story line are the underlying motives of the characters, and the consequences of their actions. Lenny abandons his wife (Lila), and leaves her brokenhearted. He is headstrong and determined, but also callous and foolish. Kelly's affection for Lenny is quite immature: she see's him as a strong father figure although he is actually egotistical and, quit frankly, short-sighted. The most mature and rational character in the film is Mr. Corcoran. The Heartbreak Kid works as a lighthearted love story; that is, cute boy wins cute girl despite their social, economic and religious differences. Thankfully, The Heartbreak Kid doesn't attempt to promote any moral themes. If it did, the film would fail. The viewer could not be satisfied with the nice cute boy wins nice cute girl conclusion because the boy (Lenny) cares for no one except himself. In summary, The Heartbreak Kid is a qualified winner with just one caveat: don't think too much."
No "Pauper's Graduate"
Johnnie LeMaster | Brooklyn, NY | 05/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Respectfully disagree with the reviewer who called this film " a pauper's 'Graduate' " It couldn't be further from the mark, and this in no way is meant to diminish Mike Nichol's excellent 1967 film. On the surface "Heartbreak Kid" doesn't appear to take itself as seriously as The Graduate, but upon repeated viewing it proves itself the other film's equal in nearly every respect and actually surpasses it in others. It's a testament to the talents of Nichol's performing partner Elaine May, who directed daughter Jeannie Berlin and Charles Grodin in this 1972 gem. Many people are thrown by the film, likely because it's neither comedy nor drama. It's closer to black comedy, but even this doesn't cover it. Its ending frustrates many, but fits the film's theme beautifully.
The individual performances are sublime - Grodin hits the ball out of the park, and Jeannie Berlin delivers a performance that makes one wonder why she never went on to greater things. She absolutely steals the scene where Grodin breaks up with her a week in to their honeymoon at a Miami Beach lobster restaurant. In one nearly continuous take, she goes from obliviousness to the depths of grief, and then to quiet, dignified resolve. Cybil Shepard is perfectly cast as the shiksa goddess in her Last Picture Show prime, serving Grodin with the same pointed disregard as he does Berlin. The film is a testament to the subtleties of human cruelty, side-splittingly funny in parts and difficult to watch in others. It's the kind of film that reveals itself in repeated viewings over the years. Also one of the few films that works equally well in vignette, and can be broken down like "Goodfellas" for its individual scenes and performances. The clip with Eddie Albert and Grodin in the restaurant when Grodin reveals his plans for marrying Albert's daughter, and then adds the "one small complication" of his being a newlywed is brilliant, and can stand on its own.
It may not have the shine of The Graduate or the haunting refrains of Simon and Garfunkel singing "Sounds of Silence" as Benjamin explores the depths of his parents' swimming pool .. but it would be a large mistake to pass it off as a pauper's version of the more famous film. I've seen both many times, and I'll make an argument for The Heartbreak Kid every time."