Classic Movie 2019

Classic Movie Of The Week: The Heartbreak Kid (1972)

Starring: Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Jeannie Berlin

Director: Elaine May

New York Jew Lenny (Grodin) marries Lila (Berlin) and heads off on honeymoon to Miami, but soon finds his wife needy and irritating. Three days into their holiday, he meets Kelly (Shepherd), a beautiful blonde college girl, and falls desperately in love with her, throwing away his whole life and new marriage to be with her.

This is such a funny film. It pokes fun at everyone, but in a kind of subtle way. Jeannie Berlin is actually the directors daughter and she’s amazing as a woman just so happy to be married and who doesn’t mean to nag her husband for compliments and constant reassurance. It turns out her insecurity is not misplaced, as her husband is soon off with another woman before the ink is even dry on their marriage certificate.

I really liked Cybill Shepherd in this film too. She’s so fresh faced in that really 70’s way, and she’s held up as a kind of all-American ideal woman, and yet, while Lenny chases after her, she’s kind of happy to flirt and loves that she’s annoying her father, but you can see she’s not truly attached.

Lenny, however, is our main focus, and Charles Grodin plays him to perfection. He’s kind of slimy and awful, but you find yourself laughing at his pathetic lies to his new wife and his irritation at her. I mean, she is annoying, but she’s also very nice too. Surely he knew what she was like before he married her? He’s incredibly shallow and transparent, selfish and self absorbed.

The social commentary in this film is really neatly done. The film could have been a romance, a drama, and in some ways it is, but it’s more of a dark comedy really, where a shallow man looks down in his new wife, and thinks he can do better, but then finds himself acting just like the wife he left and becoming the things he disliked about her. It’s very subtle and clever, but without trying to be. I liked this film more than I expected to.

See It If: you’ve ever thought you could do better… or dated someone who made you feel insecure. It’s a funny film that makes fun but does it in a dark, subtle way.

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