Seeing May in The Month Of May: “The Heartbreak Kid”

The Heartbreak Kid is a 1973 picture directed by Elaine May and written by Neil Simon.

In it, a Jewish newlywed, Lenny (Charles Grodin), sees just how vulgar and tiresome his wife Lila (Jeannie Berlin) is, and he regrets marrying her.  But during his honeymoon he himself turns into a deceitful fool-for-love—“in love” not with Lila but with the lovely goy Kelly (Cybill Shepherd), whom he meets on the beach.  Kelly’s father (Eddie Albert) is understandably appalled by the guy, and he instinctively hates him.  The movie’s ending is not exactly sanguine, and not exactly explicable.

Marriage here, except for that between the Eddie Albert character and his wife, is a joke—turned into one by the people involved.  But too much fuzziness brings on some implausible content, such as the virginal Kelly’s cool-woman teasing of Lenny, a married man. . . What’s it all about, Miss May?  You have more reason to be proud of your daughter’s, Miss Berlin’s, fine acting than of the film.

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