The Heartbreak Kid (1972)

The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Dir. Elaine May
Starring: Charles Grodin, Jeannie Berlin, Sybil Sheppard, Eddie Albert, Audra Lindley, etc.
106 minutes


I never heard of this film until I saw in the 1001 Movies You Must See book. I liked Elaine May’s script in Primary Colors and I heard her work in sketch comedies with director Mike Nichols was really good, so I was intrigued about this film.

The film is basically about a newly married husband who sees and falls for a beautiful woman (Sheppard) during his honeymoon. The supporting cast is solid (Mrs. Roeper (Audra Lindley), from Three’s Company, in a straight role, has a small part), but Charles Grodin makes everything work.

I liked Charles Grodin in Midnight Run as a foil for Robert De Niro and also his interactions with David Letterman. If you’ve wondered if he has enough presence and humor to carry a film, check this one out. His performance and character amkes this film worth watching, even though the cover tauts Eddie Albert and Jeannie Berlin. I don’t know who the nominees were in 1972 for best actor, but I think Grodin deserved at least a nomination.

Personal Comments and Analysis

There are many scenes that made me squirm. Grodin’s humor is more of the sit-com, Hollywood variety, but the situations are bit disturbing, especially given May’s treatment of the situations. Usually, filmmakers will make fun of victims or make them deserving of cruelty, but May doesn’t do that. Grodin’s character is a jerk, and, in the end, May seems to let him get away with it. Actually, I am unclear about May’s attitude towards Grodin’s character.

I don’t think the dark elements of the film gell the more comedic ones. Still, Grodin’s performance and his interactions with Berlin and Albert, in particular, more than make-up for it.

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