Sometimes you walk into a movie screening with low expectations only to leave two hours later thinking, “Wow, how wrong could I have been? That was a great film!” This was not one of those times.
It had not occurred to me until well after watching this film to find out who had directed this eyesore. At the end of the film, with a thousand questions running through my head, all of them basically boiling down to a simple, “Dear God, why?”, I just assumed that Disney had plucked some young director off the set of a Disney Channel show and gave this to him as a holiday bonus. Upon hitting up IMDB, I found to my horror that the infamous Andy Fickman was to blame for this. Fickman, the man who has brought us such legendary films as She’s the Man, Race to Witch Mountain, and The Game Plan. This is a guy who, looking at his resume, the closest thing to good you will find is an associate producer credit on Anaconda and an appearance as himself on a Food Network show. I can only assume Disney keeps him around because they pay him in Mickey Mouse pancakes.
The movie starts off with a flashback to Marni’s (Kristen Bell) high school days, way back in 2002. I am officially ancient. We spend a few minutes laying the groundwork on how horrible Marni’s teenage years were at the hands of Joanna (Odette Yustman), the most popular girl in school. Flash forward to present day, Marni looks great and has just been promoted to vice president of her PR firm byher boss, and surprise Disney cameo number one, Reginald VelJohnson (Family Matters). This movie is packed with cameos and some definitely work better than others. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appears as an air marshal in a scene that lasts for all of one minute, just long enough to remind you that he will never tire of feeding off of Disney’s teet, and you could hear crickets in the theater I was in. They dug Patrick Duffy (Dallas) up from the hole he’s been buried in for the past few years, and the place practically exploded. I can’t explain it. My wife actually leaned over and said, “There wasn’t this much noise when Nimoy appeared in Star Trek.”
Marni heads home for her brother’s wedding, and we are supposed to believe that she has never bothered to ask her mom what her future sister-in-law’s name is. We are led to believe that the siblings have this great relationship during the film, yet apparently they haven’t spoken to each other since the brother got engaged? Not that I blame Bell’s character. While there are plenty of potential Razzie nominees running around this film, the actor playing the groom to be (James Wolk) is horrible. Everytime he appears on screen, it’s someone doing a painful John Krasinski impression, to the point that they should have spent the extra bucks and just hired the real deal and tried to beef the role up a little bit. Wait, on second thought, this was clearly a script where no one was worried about giving any thought to male characters, so that wouldn’t work. Victor Garber, who plays the dad, deserves so much better than this. Why won’t someone hire him for Boardwalk Empire, or something with some meat to it and a steady paycheck.
Not all of the actors phone it in. Sigourney Weaver continues her recent career revival by stretching a nothing role into something that is at least worthy of her time. Bell proves that she can carry a film and that she is perhaps one of the bigger female stars of her generation. I can’t deny, she has a presence on screen.
Why Disney didn’t just cut their losses, cast this with unknowns, and film this as a Disney Channel original I have no idea. Do yourself a favor and avoid at all costs.