Director: Rob Hedden | 95 minutes | comedy, crime, romance | Actors: Dave Annable, Katharine McPhee, Rob Schneider, Mena Suvari, Kathy Bates, Ken Davitian, Tia Carrere, Kevin Dunn, Vinnie Jones, Stephen Tobolowsky, Howard Bishop, Jeanne Rogers, Willie K. Kahaiali’l, Theo Boumbis, Dorian Burns
“You May Not Kiss the Bride” is a typical film where you can imagine that the cast and crew had a lot of fun on set. This is not only due to the tropical paradise where this genre mix of romantic comedy and crime thriller largely takes place, but also to the absurd situations in which the characters find themselves. Unfortunately, that pleasure alone does not fully pay off to the public.
Bryan (Dave Annable, best known from TV series “Brothers & Sisters”) has a strange job to say the least. He photographs pets in his studio, but then – at the request of their owners – in costumes and forced poses. Although this is the last thing he expected from his career, he makes the best of it. What also does not help is that his assistant Tonya (hilarious role of Mena Suvari) does everything to seduce him and that his mother (Kathy Bates, even recognizable with a detox mask and cucumbers on) delivers well-meaning relationship advice over the phone. That Bryan is not yet very familiar with his work, becomes clear when one day something goes completely wrong and a cat is seriously injured in the process. Not much later, Bryan is taken by two burly gentlemen to the Croatian mafia boss Vadik Nikitin, who speaks a typical Hollywood-Eastern European accent. It turns out that Bryan’s professional fool harmed Nitikin’s wife: it was her pet and Nitikin demands penance. For this he has decided that Bryan should marry his daughter Masha. As we saw in an earlier excerpt, his plan to bribe two INS employees and help his daughter get a green card (a residence permit) has failed. There is one thing: Bryan is not allowed to touch the still unknown bride, because she is actually destined to marry one of Nitikin’s henchmen, Brick (Vinnie Jones). To keep up appearances, Nitikin sends Bryan and Masha (Katharine McPhee) to a tropical destination for their honeymoon. The first problems start already on the way …
This absurd premise does require some empathy from the viewer. Such an arranged marriage is still there, but the reason Nitikin chooses Bryan and Bryan agrees to the plan is far-fetched. In addition, “You May Not Kiss the Bride” suffers from the unbalanced scenario. The sexually tinged jokes of Mena Suvari and Rob Schneider, the slapstick humor, a kidnapping and a blossoming romance are ingredients that do not mix well here.
The acting is only just enough, with the main role, that of Dave Annabble, also irritating the most. He simply has too little charisma and authority, even as a timid photographer he falls seriously short. On the other hand, Katherine McPhee is not only attractive, but also acts quite nicely. Although she does not come across as a Croatian, and the explanation for why she speaks English without an accent, is hardly credible, but the former American Idol contestant can’t help that. And the supporting roles are generally well filled. Those who do not have too high expectations will have a nice pastime from “You May Not Kiss the Bride”. The pace is fine, the film is not slowing down and the locations are beautiful. And Tia Carrere and Rob Schneider as cousins? You don’t see that anywhere.