Title: You May Not Kiss the Bride
Director: Rob Hedden
Starring: Dave Annable, Katharine McPhee, Ken Davitian, Vinnie Jones, Mena Suvari, Rob Schneider, Tia Carrere, Kevin Dunn, Howard Bishop, Kathy Bates, Stephen Tobolowsky
An uneven action-comedy of unconvincingly forced hijinks, “You May Not Kiss the Bride” plays like a strange, misbegotten mash-up of “The Bounty Hunter,” “Green Card,” “Get Shorty” and “The Big Bounce.” The cross-pollinated ensemble story of an arranged marriage, unlikely budding romances and a bunch of criminal mischief and double-crossing, it’s amiable yet still consistently wearying — a movie that never figures out a way to stitch together all of its incongruous elements.
After a mishap involving a customer’s cat, unassuming pet photographer Brian (Dave Annable) is strong-armed into canceling out his debt by marrying the daughter, Masha (Katharine McPhee, late of “American Idol”), of Croatian mobster Vlatko Nikitin (Ken Davitian), in order to help expedite her immigration after a failed attempt at the bribery of a couple government agents (Kevin Dunn and Howard Bishop). This triggers the wild, hormonal jealousy of Brian’s assistant Tanya (Mena Suvari), who’s convinced that the two of them should be an item. It also puts Brian in the crosshairs of Brick (Vinnie Jones), an ill-tempered henchman of Nikitin set to actually marry Masha, after a year passes of the simply-for-show nuptials.
Following a big public wedding, Brian and Masha head off to a secluded Tahitian resort. When Masha gets kidnapped, though, Brian becomes desperate to track her down — enlisting the help of Ernesto (Rob Schneider), a horny, jack-of-all-trades tourist-transportation guy, and Lani (Tia Carrere), a kind-hearted waitress. Tanya and Brick each also show up, further complicating matters for all involved. In the end, does Brian realize he may have real feelings for Masha? Well… of course he does.
“You May Not Kiss the Bride” begins as a more conventional, if undeniably broad, laffer, and then morphs rather fitfully into an air-quote zany action comedy, with Brick visiting violence upon Brian and others, and chase sequences culminating in explosions and the like. The result is neither fish nor fowl — a movie that has no settled sense of purpose or narrative clarity. The story is expansive enough that it allows for a wide range of recognizable faces, but any and all dramatic payoffs are pat, and the material isn’t snappy enough to truly merit their involvement.
Ergo, the film becomes just a series of bits, passing time until declamatory markers are passed. As the amorous, unhinged Tanya, Suvari gives a committed, crazy turn — probably the movie’s best, or at least its most enjoyable — but many of the other performances seem to be on different wavelengths. Brian and Masha are apart for so much of the movie that one can’t really buy the requisite “surprise” blossoming of genuine affection between Annable and MacPhee, and the film suffers from this lack of tethering chemistry. Writer-director Rob Hedden’s chirpy, DIY production (it’s even billed in the opening credits as a movie by “Hedden and friends”) gets a tip of the hat for its independent production, but the technical execution and oversight aren’t strong enough to shape this muddled comedy into something worthy of recommendation.
NOTE: For more information, visit the movie’s eponymous Facebook page.
Written by: Brent Simon