Heartburn Movie Review

The backstory of Heartburn is infinitely more interesting than its reality: Jack Nicholson took the role after shooting had begun, after Mandy Patinkin was fired for not being funny enough.

Strange then: Nicholson isn't funny at all, and only the quirky charms of Meryl Streep make Heartburn remotely palatable. Heartburn is Nora Ephron's first comedy, based on her novel of the same name -- a thinly veiled expose about her life with journalist Carl Bernstein. The film casts Streep as a New York food writer and Nicholson as a Washington columnist. They meet, fall in love, decide to marry, have kids. Unfortunately, Nicholson can't keep it in his pants -- and all manner of trouble ensues.

It's tragically obvious from the start that these two aren't meant for each other, so it's hard to root for their reconciliation (which happens several times throughout the movie, interspersed with silly slapstick that includes, I shit you not, a pie to the face of Nicholson).

Well, worse movies have been made, and thankfully Streep keeps an even keel throughout, despite the odd look she carries through the movie and the absurd lines she's forced to deliver. Much more fun is watching for they-were-nobodies-once cameos from the likes of Kevin Spacey, who appears to rob Streep's support group after giving her his seat on the subway. Oh, the humanity. It's little nonsensical vignettes like this -- which obviously never really happened to Ephron -- that fill up the movie. Meanwhile, all we can do is sit around and wait for Jack to come into his own and knock the petulant Streep on her ass.

Never happens. Sigh.


deanawulflyr's picture


I have to disagree with the reviewer on this movie. While this was not one of Nicholson's better roles, Streep herself portrayed a very vibrant character who wouldn't suffer fools, even if that fool turned out to be her own husband. Hence what has become known to my family as "The Key Lime Pie Incident".This allows Streep's character to get a little of her own back and get on with her life.Also in the movie there are some important cameo roles portrayed by Stockard Channing and Catherine O'Hara, who help Rachel to make some very important decisions.All in all, taking into account the times in which the movie was made of course, it is a very enjoyable movie, and is definitely worth another look, even 20 years later.

6 years 8 months ago
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Heartburn Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 1986


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