Elaine May Joan Mellen - Essay

Joan Mellen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In The Heartbreak Kid] Elaine May presents us with two versions of "woman": the Jewish, gum-chewing Lila at home amidst the vulgarities of Miami Beach, and the Wasp Kelly, whose surface patina of blonde invulnerability and athletic grace bespeaks utter emotional emptiness. The hero, Lenny, is no better than either the woman he abandons nor the one he pursues to the wilds of the Mid-West. But his callow opportunism can in no way mitigate May's unfortunate offering of crudely stereotyped women, recognizable ethnic types presented at their worst for the sake of a few cheap laughs…. (p. 41)

[Lila is] an adolescent whose gratifications remain oral and a Jewish girl to whom a mouth stuffed with...

(The entire section is 609 words.)