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The Heartbreak Kid (1972)

The Heartbreak Kid

Director:Elaine May
Cast:Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Jeannie Berlin
Genre:Film, Comedy

By Heather Joslyn | Posted

Ah, June, the season of weddings. So much hope, such steep odds. Lots of factors can send blissful marrieds headed toward divorce court--infidelity, money woes, plain old incompatibility--but this 1972 comedy offers a darkly hilarious look at one of the shallowest reasons: buyer's remorse. Charles Grodin plays Lenny, who marries fellow Jewish New Yorker Lila (Jeannie Berlin, the daughter of Kid director Elaine May, giving her all to a thankless, vanity-free role). Three days into their honeymoon, Lenny meets WASP beach bunny Kelly (Cybill Shepherd, in her vapid sun-goddess prime) and falls, if not in love, at least in some covetous facsimile of it. Neil Simon, of all people, co-wrote a script that shows its protagonist's worst, cruelest, most self-loathing side over and over again, and dares us to keep identifying with him. Grodin gives a career-best performance, radiating panic behind his eyes whenever the sweet but hopelessly unglamorous Lila natters on about how she and Lenny will be together for the rest of their lives, making it feel like the death sentence he comes to believe it is. Kid is a squirm-inducing cautionary tale for altar-bound viewers; for everyone else, it's a gut-busting satire of holy wedlock--emphasis on "lock."

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