Parents' Guide to

The Heartbreak Kid (1972)

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Discussion-worthy '70s anti-romantic comedy.

Movie PG 1972 104 minutes
The Heartbreak Kid (1972) Poster Image

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THE HEARTBREAK KID, at least in its first half, is a "romantic comedy" that seems to be the opposite of romantic, or traditionally comedic. Dark comedy is more like it. Unlike the 2007 remake, the original doesn't go for R-rated belly laughs but rather for the shocking absurdity and impropriety of it all, plus an ethnic-cultural angle absent from the Ben Stiller version. The plot is uncomfortable, but it does make rich discussion material with older children about relationships, commitments, and choices.

The squirming scene in which Leonard tells Lila he wants a divorce is the film's most affecting. As unappealing as Lila may be, she adores Leonard and she's being destroyed, while the salesman hero puts a "positive" spin on the devastating news. Viewers may feel some sympathy for Leonard as he confronts Kelly's stern father, who seems to harbor anti-Semitic feelings towards him. Though there's a twist at the end, you're left pondering what Leonard's given up. He seems to be wondering, too.

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