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A mediocre Hawaii-set comedy targeted at the limited demographic of middle-aged white guys who dig wish-fulfillment rom-coms, Tyler Spindel’s The Wrong Missy finds David Spade juggling the attentions of three attractive women, one of whom is psychotically bent on either fulfilling his every need or killing him in the attempt.
Happy Madison loyalists, who live to see each new supporting role Adam Sandler’s production company dreams up for Nick Swardson — or to guess what nutty accent Rob Schneider will affect this time around — may be mildly amused. But even with locked-down consumers scraping the bottom of the Netflix content trough, this new addition to the lineup is pretty dreary.
Release date: May 13, 2020
Spade, who made his name playing smug jerks with unjustified superiority complexes, plays a blandly likable everyman here as Tim, a banking executive who hopes for a promotion as his company merges with a megacorp. We meet Tim as he struggles through a horrifying blind date with Missy (Lauren Lapkus), a practical joker whose idea of breaking the ice is to instigate bar fights and then track her victim to the men’s room when he tries to sneak out mid-drinks. Judging from her performance, director Spindel may have handed Lapkus (of TV’s Crashing and Orange Is the New Black) a list of movies built around misogynistic crazy-chick cliches and told her, “These aren’t out-there enough — you can do better.”
Mercifully, the date does eventually end. (Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett’s lazy screenplay just jumps from the middle of a conflict to a “three months later” title card.) Now, Tim is hustling through an airport when a plot contrivance gets him stranded with another Melissa. This one, a former beauty-pageant winner played by Molly Sims, is laughably perfect for him: They have identical tastes and (lack of) relationship statuses, and when their impulsive janitor’s-closet hookup is cut short, they promise to keep in touch. When Tim texts later that night, he’s shocked at her enthusiastically erotic response. Alas, he sent that message to the wrong Melissa in his phone. Double-alas, he unwittingly invites the wrong woman to join him on a business retreat in Hawaii.
The rest of the film’s first half explores how implausibly grating this Wrong Missy can be. Immediately soused on free resort cocktails, she forces her way into every interaction Tim has with his co-workers, including his attempts to kiss up to Geoff Pierson’s Mr. Winstone, the billionaire in charge of his potential promotion. She treats Tim like the love of her life (and like she’s the love of his), which attracts the attention of Tim’s ex-fiancee Julia (Sarah Chalke). Lest this trapped-in-Hawaii-with-your-ex premise give any bored viewer ideas, let me save you the effort: No, Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn’t streaming on Netflix.
Then, distractingly aware of genre conventions, the movie tells Tim it’s time to fall for this crazy person. After nearly getting him killed by a shark, Missy finds a way to make it up to her would-be soulmate; Lapkus turns the dial from 11 or 12 down to 3, briefly becoming a person worth having dinner with. Then, remembering their aging-horndog target audience, the filmmakers have her propose a threesome for their lucky hero. Lunkheaded (and G-rated) slapstick ensues.
Given the flimsiness of its transitions from one unconvincing plot beat to the next, one imagines a possible origin story for The Wrong Missy‘s script: a logline dashed off on an airline’s first-class cocktail napkin, under the influence of free liquor and an in-flight rom-com; a self-imposed deadline to finish outlining the plot before flight attendants issued the tray-tables-up command; an utter disinterest in polishing said outline after the plane landed.
After all, this is Happy Madison, where half-assing it gets you to the front of the class and, with only a couple of exceptions, the boss takes a leave of absence if he wants to do something unpredictable. (Viva Howard Ratner! Viva Danny Meyerowitz!) The Wrong Missy is far from the company’s worst offense. But it’s still not a blind date you’d count as happy once the check arrives.
Production company: Happy Madison
Cast: David Spade, Lauren Lapkus, Nick Swardson, Geoff Pierson, Jackie Sandler, Molly Simms, Sarah Chalke, Chris Witaske, Rob Schneider
Director: Tyler Spindel
Screenwriters: Chris Pappas, Kevin Barnett
Producers: Kevin Grady, Allen Covert, Judit Maull
Executive producers: Barry Bernardi, Edward H. Hamm Jr, Raymond Mansfield, Sean Mckittrick, Chris Pappas, Kevin Barnett
Director of photography: Theo van de Sande
Costume designer: Kelli Jones
Editor: Brian M. Robinson
Composer: Mateo Messina
Casting director: Mary Vernieu
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