Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: Sept. 21, 2012
Directed by: Rob Hedden
Stars: 3 out of 5
A green card marriage is usually portrayed in Hollywood as a consensual agreement between two people to marry and divorce for immigration purposes. They may then fall in love and live happily ever after. The writer and director of “You May Not Kiss the Bride,” Rob Hedden, betrays these rules from the beginning when he throws a mob princess and a bumbling pet photographer together with the threat of marriage or death (for the pet photographer, not the mob princess). This is not a crime drama but a romantic comedy that promises many laughs from the first scene until the last.
Hedden’s film brings together an eclectic cast for an even stranger plot. The strangeness gets more convoluted as the story goes on. Brian, the pet photographer, is played by David Annable (you may remember him as Sally Field’s youngest son in “Brothers and Sisters”). He is sexually harassed by his resourceful, but desperate to the point of embarrassment, assistant Tonya, played by Mena Suvari (“American Pie 2”). Despite the harassment, Brian flounders as a photographer of rich clients’ pets. He does get occasional advice from his mother, the venerable Kathy Bates. However, Brian still finds himself in a bad way when a German Shepherd attacks a cat belonging to a mobster’s wife. Ken Davitian (“Borat”) plays the mobster who gives Brian the option of marrying his daughter so she can obtain a green card or else take a bullet to the head. Brian chooses to play a groom for a while rather than to spend time in a casket.
This sinister plot gets thicker once Brian finds that he cannot have sexual contact with the mobster’s daughter Masha, played by the beautiful and gracious Katharine McPhee. She is betrothed to British enforcer Brick (Vinnie Jones, “Snatch”). The couple finds it hard to keep Brian’s promise to the mob. However, they don’t get to make contact because Masha is kidnapped in a double cross that harks back to the Bugs Bunny cartoons you watched as a kid.
Hedden seems to choose the right characters to stretch the laughs to the limits. They include funnyman Rob Schneider. He dons a thick accent and bumbling demeanor as the pilot who takes the married couple to their Tahitian vacation. Hedden’s script laughs at itself and also admonishes its audience against taking anything seriously. He even includes a chase scene that ends with a bucket on a thug’s head. Nothing is safe in this film where Oscar award-winning stars are thrown into the action to make the sequences seem to work for the 98-minute length of the film.
One cause for concern, however, may be his choice of stereotypical mobster types in Jones and Davitian. People may be refreshed to see him in another role, but his role in “You May Not Kiss the Bride” isn’t far removed from his “Borat” days. Pitting Davitian against Schneider does, however, create a great basis for slapstick comedy. These two actors know how to stage the comedic acts to heighten the silliness of the scene. They take advantage of the already funny script to make comedy wherever possible.
That is what Hedden accomplishes here-a laugh-hearty slapstick comedy. He creates a situation with rules that are almost impossible to abide by in the marriage conditions. The comedy isn’t dampened much by the serious actors McFee and Annable. They are two lovers caught in an unbearable situation, surrounded by idiots. Suvari creates a very surprising character whose attempts to bed Brian are embarrassingly funny and awkward at the same time. This is not something you expect from an SAG award-winning actress.
“You May Not Kiss the Bride” is a first production for the island film company Hawaiian Film Partners. Hedden’s work does an excellent job of showing off the views of the islands. It also frames Brian’s native Chicago in a picturesque light. However, this silly romantic comedy will not win the company much acknowledgment from serious critics. It does make a splash with mainstream audiences in search of a laugh.
This is a romantic comedy for those looking for a laugh or a pick-me-up rather than a serious movie-going experience. “You May Not Kiss the Bride” promises only laughs, and the film delivers these from start to finish.