Three Comedies from Sony Pictures
My Mom's New Boyfriend (October 18/08)
Despite the presence of such genuinely talented performers as Colin Hanks, Selma Blair, and Antonio Banderas, My Mom's New Boyfriend essentially comes off as an unmitigated disaster virtually from its opening frames. Filmmaker George Gallo offers up an atmosphere of amateurishness that's exacerbated by a curious lack of laughs, with star Meg Ryan's ineffective, distinctly over-the-top performance certainly not helping matters. The storyline follows straight-laced FBI agent Henry Durand (Colin Hanks) as he finds himself forced to contend with his free-spirited mother's (Ryan's Marty) exotic new boyfriend (Banderas' Tommy), though his problems increase substantially after it's revealed that Tommy is, in fact, a notorious art thief. The degree to which Gallo squanders the relatively promising set-up is nothing short of astonishing, as the writer/director's sitcom-like modus operandi makes it virtually impossible for one to wholeheartedly buy into the film's premise or characters. Hanks' affable work is rendered moot by the relentless silliness, while the painfully melodramatic third act will leave even the film's fans furiously rolling their eyes. And although there is admittedly a pretty funny bit of physical comedy towards the end (in which several characters enter a house by jumping through different windows), My Mom's New Boyfriend is otherwise a hopelessly inept misfire that ultimately fits comfortably within Gallo's almost uniformly underwhelming filmography.
My Sassy Girl
Infused with as over-the-top and relentlessly quirky sensibility as one could possibly envision, My Sassy Girl quickly establishes itself as an uncommonly interminable romantic comedy that effectively squanders its relatively promising opening half hour. The film revolves around the off-kilter relationship that ensues between a buttoned-up guy (Jesse Bradford's Charlie Bellow) and a free-spirited girl (Elisha Cuthbert's Jordan Roark) after he saves her life, with the bulk of the proceedings devoted to Charlie's efforts at understanding just what it is that makes Jordan tick. Director Yann Samuell has infused My Sassy Girl with a sense of style that's certainly reminiscent of his first feature, 2003's mildly superior Love Me If You Dare, and it goes without saying that his aggressively loopy modus operandi becomes oppressive almost immediately. Far more problematic, however, is screenwriter Victor Levin's handling of Cuthbert's character, as Jordan - though clearly intended to come off as a free-wheeling nonconformist - has been instilled with hopelessly broad attributes that make it impossible to believe that she could ever exist in the real world. It gets to a point where one, as the movie progresses, can't help but come to the conclusion that Jordan is clinically insane and belongs within the deepest recesses of a dank mental hospital, which obviously makes it exceedingly difficult to buy into Charlie's continuing attempts at making the relationship work. Jordan's head-scratching behavior reaches a breaking point towards the film's conclusion, as her baffling request to Charlie to spend a year apart ultimately possesses the feel of an eye-rollingly needless spin on the requisite fake break-up. It's subsequently not surprising to note that the film is entirely lacking in the emotional impact that Samuell is clearly striving for, with one finally forced to assume that something has gotten woefully lost in the translation (the movie is, after all, based on a 2001 South Korean effort).
With an eclectic supporting cast that includes Kyle Gass, Mindy Sterling, and Jenny McCarthy, Wieners is clearly striving for a loopy, downright off-the-wall sensibility designed to evoke such memorable road trip flicks as National Lampoon's Vacation and EuroTrip - although the film's almost total lack of laughs does ensure that it's ultimately not even remotely as effective as its thematically-similar predecessors. The storyline follows hapless bowling-store employee Joel (Fran Kranz) as he embarks on a cross-country journey with his two best friends (Kenan Thompson's Wyatt and Zachary Levi's Ben) after he's dumped on national television, with their final destination the very studio where his relationship ended as a result of antagonistic shrink Dr. Dwayne's (Darrell Hammond) relentless prodding. Scripters Suzanne Francis and Gabe Grifoni have infused Wieners with an incredibly specific sense of humor that'll surely leave audiences polarized, as certain viewers will simply not find anything of comedic value here while others will find themselves chuckling nonstop at the characters' over-the-top shenanigans. It does seem clear, however, that even the movie's fans will find themselves growing impatient with the screenplay's hit-and-miss modus operandi, and there's subsequently little doubt that the filmmakers' attempts at eliciting laughter become increasingly desperate as the movie progresses (ie McCarthy's pointless and utterly unfunny cameo). Likewise, it's difficult to imagine anyone deriving enjoyment out of the majority of the movie's egregiously silly episodes - including run-ins with a randy old couple and a trio of aggressive hippies - and there's just no denying that Wieners ultimately comes off as a terminally erratic endeavor that possesses too few positive attributes to warrant even a mild recommendation.