Quick review: 2.75/5 stars
Not-as-Quick review: As the trailer indicates a rich dude-Leo, treats a hard-working woman-Kate terribly and then gets amnesia after suffering a fall off his yacht. Kate doctors some official documents *cough*illegal*cough* and claims him as her husband so he can do the work she can’t, in order for her to get a little respite financially as she studies to be a nurse. This movie is funny. It is not good.
If you enjoy romcoms generally, you will probably like this movie. If you like the quirks and passions of the Mexican culture that have been imported/stuck around despite the territory being ceded to the US, then you will probably like this movie. It’s pro-family while facing the realities of divorce, it’s characters are real and ridiculous at the same time, and it manages to get multiple class strata interacting together in ways that are both trope-y and believable. Kate and Leo, the M.C.s, make a fun couple. And the little girls are darling.
So why the 3 stars? Most of that is spoilery and will be below, but there’s naked man-butt: twice. That may be a selling point for you, butt not for me. *cue rimshot* Plus plot holes one could sail a yacht through. Plus iffy acting from time to time. Plus a 1:2 ratio of jokes that fell flat or were vaguely offensive.
Also, I don’t give five stars to romcoms unless they REALLY earn it. Unfair? Perhaps, but when your ending is mostly foregone and the formula doesn’t allow for sweeping cinematography or incredible affects AND the cheese-factor is generally high, I can’t say that it is “just as good” as something like The Darkest Hour or even Ready Player One. Are there exceptions? Of course! A really good story, that happens to be a love story, where the acting is amazing, the cinematography gives it the old college try, and the humor is on point will get a great ranking from me. You’ve Got Mail and While You Were Sleeping come to mind. OK, you want to know the nitty-gritty? Scroll to the spoiler zone.
*in the voice of Frank Constanza* I gotta lotta problems with these jokes!
Haha, nurses aren’t pretty. Haha, Scottish people are obstinate and get drunk at weddings. Haha, going to AA is for losers (kinda). Haha, the guy I’m fooling around with is drunk so “taking advantage” of him is funny.
In a movie that tried, earnestly tried, to be real and depict real-ish people in crazy situations it did it’s fair share of shaming average looking women. Apparently, Anna Faris (who plays Kate) is now the low bar of attractiveness and if you aren’t at least as cute as her, you need not apply. Thanks, Hollywood!
Also when did it become ok to go from “Can I kiss you?” to “Let’s have sex” in one night? Not even from a moral perspective (Although, morals, people. C’mon!), but from a dramatic perspective. There’s no anticipation, no building of trust. I may be ok with kissing, but that doesn’t switch all the lights to green. One of the things I appreciated about My Big Fat Greek Wedding (4/5 stars) is it showed the MCs physical relationship progressing. As they learned to trust each other and that relationship deepened things moved forward. As part of the facade perpetrated on amnesiac Leo, he’s told that he’s an alcoholic and this latest relapse has invoked a self-imposed sexual abstinence for thirty days. “You and your sponsor came up with it. It’s hard for me too, honey.” And yet, not only does Kate eventually let him break the fake embargo, she goes from- “Ok, I’ll kiss the guy I’m lying to and using to make ends meet” to “Sex!” in one scene. ONE SCENE!! Let’s see it actually be hard for her to tell him no. Let’s see her struggle a little. But I guess when you have no compunction about creating forged documents, lying about a marriage, lying to a man who has suffered trauma, and using him both as labor and an emotional stabilizer, we shouldn’t expect ethical conundrums and emotional struggle to be strong themes.
Speaking of ethics, according to this film the following are normal and shouldn’t be given a second thought: sex (tons of it)outside of marriage, drinking to excess-constantly, cursing, getting tattoos on one’s buttocks. It’s pretty indicative of what Hollywood considers “acceptable,” or at the very least “normal.” Nothing is sacred.
But, it does do a few things really well, which might make it a fun ladies’s night Redbox. The romance is pretty cute. We like Kate. She’s trying to work two jobs while studying to become a nurse and raise her three girls, each of whom has her own (if ridiculously cliche) struggles. Leo is a jerk. (and not my cup of tea. He doesn’t get cuter when scruffy). But we learn he is supportive of his overly emotional sister, Sophia, and we watch him apply himself to learning to be successful in the life he’s been handed. He devotes himself to his new family once he believes they are his. He struggles with his feelings of disconnectedness, but doesn’t shirk his role. He is by far the superior character despite starting the film as the philandering, rich brat. He may not have the strength for construction, but he has other talents that emerge quickly, the most valuable one being his ability to support others emotionally. It breaks his heart when he realizes who he really is. Not so much because Kate is a lying liar and ethically bankrupt, but because he has to leave the girls he’s come to know as his daughters. And Derbez’s acting here is great. We believe he is being torn apart. And in this moment they miss the opportunity to bring up the cartoon mouse butt-tattoo as a joke. They make it a thing in the beginning and never bring it back for a joke later. So many missed opportunities.
And yet, in this moment of separation and angst, there is no belief that they won’t get back together. The end is foregone, like I said. But in all the best romances there is a moment of genuine heartbreak because you think, even though you know better, that they really might be torn apart for good. Never happens. His anger with Kate is not nearly as powerful as his pull towards fatherhood and his pain over leaving those girls. And then for almost no reason, Kate decides to go after him. With no game plan of how to get him back, no real apology. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” Bleh.
So much more needed to be said. The Leo side of things: reconciling with his steward played by John Hannah, turning the boat around and then gettin locked out of the control room by his dad, realizing his sister left him to rot is all so much better than anything happening with Kate. Her scenes fall flat so when she gets the guy in the end it’s kinda whatever, you know?
And what are the consequences for everyone in this little farce? Not much. Sister- not Sophia- who left Leo to rot so she could take over the family business? Gets reassigned to head the charitable devision. Father who disinherits his son over his choice to settle down with a cute American and her kids (whom he never threatens to charge with kidnapping)? Gains three cute granddaughters! Kate, who lied, committed fraud, tricked a man into having sex with her (presumably without a condom based on certain other plot devices), and then accepted his proposal of marriage without telling him the truth? Oh, she gets to marry the guy she duped, passes her nursing exam, has her roof fixed, and then surprise, becomes super rich because the yacht that Leo fell off of is actually deeded to him because it was a birthday present and he can sell it for millions of dollars. And Leo learns a bunch of super important life lessons, plus gets an insta-family, plus gets to keep all the monies. (So is Kate not going into nursing then, being millionaires now and all?)
Look there are huge freaking plot holes, and lots of reasons why I won’t ever own this movie, but if you’ve got $10 and a couple of girl friends who just need to laugh for a bit (some of the jokes are quite good), then give it a whirl. Just know it’s got problems all over the place. Know that if you like movies you have to think about, this will disappoint you. If you want a romance that earns it’s intimate moments, skip this one.
Until next time, enjoy the (probably a different) show.