In a year from now, “You May Not Kiss the Bride” will make for decent background noise when it inevitably airs on Lifetime, the channel that you only happen upon on lazy Sunday mornings when you’re nursing a hangover with Bisquick pancakes. Yes, I mean Bisquick pancakes specifically, because anyone with enough intellect to pick HBO or a cable news roundtable over Lifetime also selects Aunt Jemima pancakes, which boast a richness of flavor and fluffy texture far superior to those emanating from the yellow box.
One can only assume that writer/director Rob Hedden, whose prior work includes “Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” conceived the film under the assumption that it would go straight to basic cable, sans the 10-city theatrical release it is receiving, because it is inconceivable that any sane human could think this premise worthy of multiplex ticket prices. In case you are part of the majority that hasn’t seen the trailer: A pet photographer (Dave Annable) is threatened into marrying a Croatian mob boss’ daughter (Katharine McPhee) so that she can become an American citizen. On their South Pacific honeymoon, she is kidnapped and, ever so conveniently, this dangerous situation causes the fake couple to realize that they may actually like each other.
This unfunny and unromantic concept–never a good foundation for a movie that bills itself as a romantic-comedy–is only made worse by Hedden’s implementation of an action climax, complete with poor craftsmanship exacerbated by the film’s low budget. Hedden tries to make use of the tropical surroundings as the protagonist vies to liberate his new bride from her kidnappers in a rainforest-set chase, but ultimately the sequence descends into a hackneyed shoot ‘em up. When Hedden brings a helicopter into the action, one can only reason that the money would have been better blown on upping the overall production quality instead.
It would be an overstatement to call the performances a “bright spot,” but they are certainly more enjoyable than the other elements. The gorgeous Katharine McPhee has real screen presence, and in truth, the movie would have been better had it simply consisted of 100 straight minutes of her talking directly to the camera. “You May Not Kiss the Bride” was filmed in 2009, before she got her acting break on NBC’s “Smashed,” so one can forgive McPhee for accepting such a crummy role with the understanding that she won’t make the same mistake ever again.
The rest of the cast is nowhere near as magnetic as McPhee, but it is mildly interesting to count all the known stars who pop up. Rob Schneider pilots the aforementioned helicopter in a role with surprisingly few attempts at out-and-out humor. Mena Suvari plays a crazed sexpot, because apparently the “American Pie” franchise didn’t earn her enough residuals to live off of. Ken Davitian of “Borat” fame proves that he is nothing without Sacha Baron Cohen, and footballer-turned-actor Vinnie Jones plays his henchman. Even Kathy Bates agreed to do a bizarre bit-part for reasons better left unknown.
Still, not even Bates’ participation is as perplexing as the fact that “You May Not Kiss the Bride” is receiving a theatrical release of any size. In fact, it feels borderline unfair to review a movie that was clearly never meant to be reviewed, largely devoid of talent and ambition. That is, unless there is a blog devoted to reviewing Sunday morning pancake accompaniments.