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You May Not Kiss the Bride

2011 | 1.85:1

You May Not Kiss the Bride


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Theatrical release date

 21 September, 2011

Country of origin

 United States



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You May Not Kiss the Bride Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 20, 2012

I’m happy that the actors could secure themselves a lovely Hawaiian vacation with “You May Not Kiss the Bride,” but I only wish they contributed to a more substantial film. Surprisingly violent for a romantic comedy, the feature offers a broad display of slapstick and shootouts, positioning itself as a tropical adventure with a sense of humor. Without a single laugh or a convincing performance, “Kiss the Bride” ends up a South Seas home movie for key production personnel. It was probably a blast to make, but fails as an offering of big screen escapism.

Bryan (Dave Annable) is an animal photographer trying to make the best out of a disappointing professional situation. When a studio mishap with a cat and his lustful assistant Tonya (Mena Suvari) places him in hot water with Vadik (Ken Davitian), a Croatian gangster, Bryan is forced to marry the godfather’s daughter, Masha (Katharine McPhee), as his reparation, helping the young woman skirt past immigration laws enforced by two ruthless ICE goons (Kevin Dunn and Howard Bishop). Threatened with bodily harm by Brick (Vinnie Jones), Vadik’s enforcer and Masha’s admirer, Bryan accepts the challenge, soon off to Tahiti with his new bride, ready to enjoy a honeymoon with a complete stranger. Endearing himself to local helicopter pilot Ernesto (Rob Schneider) and cocktail waitress Lani (Tia Carrere), Bryan calls in all the help he can get when Masha is kidnapped for ransom soon after their arrival, triggering a desperate hunt across the islands to retrieve the woman before Vadik and Brick catch news that their beloved is missing.

The director is Rob Hedden, perhaps best known as the helmer behind “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” the infamous sequel where Jason didn’t actually take Manhattan. Over two decades later, and it seems Hedden still has difficulty with storytelling fundamentals, guiding “Kiss the Bride” with wild inconsistency, unsure if he should treat the material with a sense of romantic playfulness or as an action extravaganza, complete with explosions and enough shootouts to make John Woo salivate. The end result (the movie was shot three years ago) is confusing in tone and rarely entertaining, pushing forward as a noisy, unlikable distraction that seems more invested in photographing lush Hawaiian locations than solidifying a sense of humor that might coexist peacefully with the violence.

Although set in Tahiti, “Kiss the Bride” was produced by Hawaiian Film Partners and shot in Oahu, giving Hedden plenty of time to explore resorts and beaches, while more rural encounters are reserved for the final chase. It’s a pretty picture, but a sense of salesmanship permeates the production, with the movie straining to get the plot away from the mainland and into paradise quickly. Of course, complaining about the story is useless when there’s an abundance of unfunny business flung around the frame, commencing with Bryan’s animal photography business (Hedden loves to parade around dogs and cats in costume) and his introduction to threatening Croatian gangster tactics. To put it another way, “Kiss the Bride” depends on Suvari and Schneider to carry the comedy workload, which is about as appealing as it reads. The script barely tries, so utterly dependent on lazy misunderstandings and broad acts of intimidation to help it lurch forward, while also nursing a betrayal subplot that’s winded the moment it’s revealed.

And for those on the hunt for a challenge, see if you can figure out exactly why Kathy Bates (playing Bryan’s housebound mother who encourages her child to sex up his fake bride) and Stephen Tobolowsky (as her butt-crack exposing plumber) are in this movie. They have nothing to do with the story.

Perhaps the only element of invention in “Kiss the Bride” is Masha’s explanation that she was raised by an American nanny, keeping McPhee away from brutal accent demands. The rest of “You May Not Kiss the Bride” is dreadful sitcom work, down to the repellent break-up-to-make-up finale, which asks viewers to care about Bryan and Masha’s future together. I doubt most viewers will make it all the way to the end to find out.

Starring: Katharine McPhee, Rob Schneider, Dave Annable, Mena Suvari, Kathy Bates, Ken Davitian
Director: Rob Hedden

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