When we were young and just acquiring a taste for Junior Mints and Jujubes, a movie meant only one thing: fun. There were varieties of fun–thrilling, spooky, slapstick, virtually any of The Spawn of Godzilla–but that was the promise, and the joy, of going to the movies (along with meeting up with your friends and scoping out the other kids). One other thing: If a movie wasn’t fun, it wasn’t good.
It was this simple rule of thumb that influenced my choosing to review You May Not Kiss the Bride instead of Cloud Atlas this week, even though the former is available on video-on-demand and the latter is getting a big Oscar-trolling rollout. Saturday evening, along with its tsunami alert, breaking into the Hurricane Sandy reporting, and fun suddenly seemed a paramount virtue. So, here’s hoping our fragile psyche is in better shape next week; if it is, we’ll dare Cloud Atlas and all its three-hour-shape-shifting Wachowski glory.
Fun in You May Not Kiss the Bride starts with its screwball comedy premise: A cuddly David Annable plays a Chicago pet photographer with a ditzy blonde sexpot assistant played by Mina Suvari, who ditzily introduces a cat into a dog shoot, with dire results. The cat’s owner is the blue-haired Croatian wife of a Croatian gangster, whose beautiful daughter, played by Katherine McPhee, is a thoroughly Americanized modern dancer who needs a green card. An arranged marriage with a honeymoon in Tahiti goes criminally awry.
Anyone partial to film-puzzle bingo will enjoy putting together the spare parts from which this plot is cobbled. My choices are: Sandra Bullock’s The Proposal, plus Matthew Broderick’s The Freshman and the Harrison Ford/Anne Heche jungle adventure Six Days Seven Nights. Yours may be different: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, combined with the second season of Hawaii 5-0. That’s okay, too. It’s all part of the fun.
Having fun doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the filmmaking process, but it’s worth pausing the video-on-demand to consider that producer Hawaii Film Partners is the 10-year-old brainchild of Rann Watumull, of the original local import empire, along with wife, Gina, and David Jackson and Shauna Shapiro Jackson of Showcase Entertainment. Watumull told me he’s proud of having made a lower-budget ($6 million) movie in Hawaii that isn’t your typical indie, because his goal is to build a film industry here that is locally owned and financed and which hires and casts locally. (It’s a dirty little secret that shows such as 5-0 make a big deal of hiring locals for their first few episodes as a PR move, then swap in L.A. talent.) Hence YMNKTB’s Chicago locations (some of which are in Chinatown) and “Tahiti” locations, (to avoid being typecast as a strictly local-market product).
That time-out over, we’ll just say that the film is bright and, as the English say, pacey, powered by the energy of a Saturday night date crowd. Willie K and Tia Carrere shine in substantial supporting roles, along with Rob Schneider and Kathy Bates. I’ll go so far as guarantee that the more people you see it with, the merrier it will be.