There is a smattering of laughs in this 2007 comedy, the latest over-the-top concoction from the Farrelly Brothers, but the laugh quotient is not nearly enough to sustain interest in this particularly mean-spirited movie. Ostensibly a remake of the 1972 Elaine May-directed comedy penned by Neil Simon, this film trivializes the original's overriding theme of the have-nots coveting the privileged lives of the haves by focusing more strictly on the premise of a lifelong bachelor who decides to marry only to find out it's a grave mistake and moves from one deception to the next to get out of it once he thinks he has found his soul mate. It should not come as a big surprise that Farrellys focus most of their attention on the humiliation and gross-out antics, but their techniques seem more contrived and their set-ups more scripted this time around, especially when Judd Apatow has done a better job humanizing such hi-jinks in movies like Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Moreover, the film shows a particularly cruel streak toward the two women involved in the shenanigans. The bloom may finally be off the hair goo.
The plot starts out promisingly in a particularly picturesque San Francisco (thanks to Matthew Leonetti's crisp cinematography) as Eddie Cantrow, the lonely owner of a San Francisco sporting-goods store, has a history of averting commitment in his long-term relationships. Turning forty and watching his last girlfriend of five years get married from the desperate kiddie table, he decides to throw caution to the wind when he meets Lila, a seemingly sweet blonde beauty, in a meet-cute situation involving a mugger. They get married after only six weeks of dating, but the marriage starts to unravel on the car trip down to their honeymoon destination, Los Cabos. One bad revelation after revelation comes out, and she evolves into a nightmarish freak with a free-flowing deviated septum. In a twist of fate, she suffers from severe sunburn and is stuck in the hotel room recovering. Enter Miranda, a good-humored girl-next-door from Mississippi in Los Cabos with her extended family. Naturally, Eddie and Miranda hit it off, and you can guess the rest.
Ben Stiller plays Eddie in familiar manic mode, though his character degenerates through the course of the story from likeable schlub to obsessive jerk. Some of the turns he takes are hilarious, like the out-of-kilter segment where he illegally crosses the border back from Mexico, but for the most part, he just feels like a sketch of a person. Malin Akerman deserves a medal for subjecting herself to a series of humiliations that turn her into an imbecilic harridan, while Michelle Monaghan provides a unique version of the "dream girl" as Miranda. It was a creative move to have a blonde bombshell like Akerman play the one Eddie tries to jettison, but the problem is that both she and Monaghan come across more as victims of their characters' stupidity than Eddie's machinations. By the end of this overlong movie, I became indifferent to anyone's fate as the story spits and sputters in the final stretch. As the final credits roll, there are two random scenes included that extend on the characters, but they aren't worth the wait.