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Catch-Up Capsule Reviews for the Week of 9/30/2007:

Feast of Love



Rated R | 102 mins


     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.

The Heartbreak Kid



Rated R | 115 mins


     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.

     Unfortunately, the 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.


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