From one Jewish movie to another, The Heartbreak Kid follows the nebbish Lenny (Charles Grodin) who meets the WASPy Kelly (Cybill Shepherd) while on his honeymoon. I told you it was like Bee Movie.
Directed by Elaine May, this 1972 comedy has an anti-romantic flavour reminiscent of The Graduate, which was directed by her comedy partner Mike Nichols. She makes every scene in Neil Simon’s frank, cynical script feel organic and often excruciating, with a pair of expert comic performances at its centre from Grodin and Jeannie Berlin, May’s daughter.
Meanwhile Shepherd’s second film role is as devastating as her character in the previous year’s The Last Picture Show, to the point that she runs the risk of typecasting. That same sense of 1970s bleakness underscores the comedy, skewering Lenny’s shallowness and immorality so sharply that it’s impossible to look away. The opposite is true of the Farrelly brothers’ remake, insofar as I’ve not watched it.