Robert Benton’s inept Feast of Love is one of those films
that probably sounded like a surefire success during its studio
pitch-meeting, but ended up a ghastly creation due to the lack of effort
put into its making. I admit that I eagerly awaited the picture’s
release; the trailers promoting it promised a winning effort from a
beloved director (Benton also made the Dustin Hoffman-classic Kramer
vs. Kramer). After all, what’s not to adore about the idea behind
Feast of Love? On paper and in short clips, the film appears to be a
romantic, introspective look at human relationships as told through
intersecting stories featuring great performances by veteran actors such
as Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear. Completed, the genuine article isn’t
anything like this. Sure, it’s directed by Benton. Sure, it’s about
love, as promised by the title. And sure, Freeman and Kinnear appear
onscreen. But there’s no magic here, whatsoever. All Feast of Love
has to offer is a screenplay full of moldy love-story clichés and a
bunch of talented actors monotonously crooning said screenplay’s
unpleasant dialogue in order to make a quick buck. The movie could’ve
just easily been shot over two days in a 48-Hour Film Competition as it
was in the month that Benton actually took to do so (this figure, of
course, does not include the time it took for writer Allison Burnett to
adapt the script from Charles Baxter’s novel). It’s that unoriginal. In
fact, had Benton simply filmed Kinnear and Freeman improvising
conversation without a script, the result probably would’ve been more
inspired than Feast of Love. Given its respectable credentials,
this picture comes as nothing but a sour, sour disappointment.
For as long as I have
been a critic, I have supported the careers of Bobby and Peter Farrelly
through thick and thin. In fact, watching their near-masterpiece of
physical comedy, Shallow Hal, was one of the theatrical
experiences that inspired me to write reviews in the first place. After
Shallow Hal, the Farrellys went onto make Stuck on You and
Fever Pitch, both of which I have come to ardently defend over
the years as wonderful motion pictures. Despite inviting
misunderstanding interpretations, these works function as rather
substantial comedies, establishing at the very least that the two minds
behind them are talented (if not evil geniuses).
Alas, when bad reviews
for the Farrelly Brothers’ latest effort, The Heartbreak Kid,
began to stack up in the days before its release, I didn’t think much of
it. Despite being admired in circles, the ingenious writer/directors
have never really been universally lauded. I figured that The
Heartbreak Kid would simply be another occasion on which the
Farrellys’ creativity was underappreciated by critics.
aforementioned assumption proved completely wrong. The Heartbreak Kid,
while not as irritatingly obnoxious as Dumb & Dumber (the film
that I regard as the only “awful” entry on the Farrellys’ resume), is
downright mediocre. Everything about the movie seems plain and obvious.
The Farrellys noticeably try hard to make it as over-the-top and zany as
their previous efforts, but are entirely unsuccessful in doing so.
Devious and boisterous as the humor in the film is, it lacks the
appreciable edge that characterizes the majority of the pair’s work.
Even the usually-riotous Ben Stiller is unable to conjure up a sense of
hilarity in the lead role.
Better luck next time,
Bobby and Peter. Despite the unfortunate fact that The Heartbreak Kid
is totally uninspired, I still love your body of work on the whole.