Film Review: Love, Wedding, Marriage

Fairly excruciating romantic comedy distinguished by its total lack of romance or comedy.

“Perky” is probably a quality that hasn’t possessed much entertainment value since Sally Field grew up, but if you are in the mood for it, this sap’s for you. Love, Wedding, Marriage stars the indefatigably perky Mandy Moore as Eva, a psychologist specializing in marriage counseling (which is like Cindy Crawford as a lawyer in Fair Game). She’s just married Charlie (Kellan Lutz), who looks like a male centerfold and has a vineyard and a Maserati, but the dissolution of the marriage of her parents (Jane Seymour and James Brolin) has her knitting her pretty brows in a fret which threatens to upend her own domestic bliss.

Had enough yet? After a varied career in studio and indie projects, something in this script, co-written by the aptly named Caprice Crane (of “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place” renown), had enough appeal for actor Dermot Mulroney to choose it for his directorial debut. Judging from the results, he can now easily slide into directing episodes of any new versions of those aforementioned TV series. His film is as slick, glossy and bogus as anything in My Best Friend’s Wedding, in which he appeared to so much box office ka-ching 14 years ago. You watch this dispiritedly and understand why so many people are avoiding the movies and just staying home to watch TV, as any episode of something like “Raising Hope” scores more honest laughs and emotional response.

Moore basically gives the same bland, perfect-girl-who-just-wants-to-help-out performance she’s been giving for the past decade (her satirical turn as the Bible freak in Saved! being a mere blip amid all the diabetic sugar). Watching her ubiquitous “niceness” makes a critic feel as perverse as Graham Greene did back in the 1930s when he wrote a wickedly licentious description of Shirley Temple that landed him in hot water.

If an International Male catalog model could talk, that would probably amount to the same performance Lutz delivers here (with requisite shirtless beefcake moment). Seymour resolutely clings to the long hair of her youth, which I guess is appropriate, as her ditheringly unappetizing, girlish performance makes her seem even more of an anachronistic ingénue than either Moore or Jessica Szohr, who plays her other, less do-goody daughter and brings a fitful spark to the movie. Histrionically, Brolin has always been as stolid as a rock and remains so here, whether wailing karaoke or driving his family crazy with his sudden decision to be a very observant Jew. (Was that ever funny?) And just when you think things couldn’t get more dismal, Christopher Lloyd appears as a predictably wacko marriage counselor who instructs his charges to jump their way to therapeutic health.