By: Matt Conway –
Known for his loud mouth and wild hairdo, Max Landis is the Hollywood writer that everyone loves to hate. In circles, the so-called “genius” has garnered a cult following, but has mostly been mocked for his somewhat ridiculous stances. Whether complaining about there being no original ideas or hating on The Force Awakens, the son of John Landis has just come off as unlikable. While he had success writing Chronicle, flops like American Ultra and Victor Frankenstein made it hard for him to be taken very seriously.
Like the cockroach that won’t die, Max is back with the spy action/comedy Mr. Right. The film follows Martha, a mess who is just moving on from a rough break up. She soon meets Francis, who seems to be the perfect guy, until she finds out he is a former hitman gone rogue.
While Landis may not be the genius some hail him to be, he is a talented writer. With each project, he is able to interject his own quirky perspective and has a penchant for snappy dialogue. Some of the risks he takes don’t quite pan out, but he at least is tackling ideas from a fresh mindset.
Mr. Right in a lot of ways feels like a more concise version of his last feature American Ultra. Where Ultra was a promising feature ruined by its cluster fuck of tones, Mr. Right opts for a more playful approach. Thankfully, Landis and company are able to stick to that goal, with the film being silly fun from start to finish. They are quite a few clever lines and fun plot twists to keep audiences invested.
It also helps when a skilled director is on the same page as the writer, rather than the guy who directed Project X (the douchey party movie, not the monkey movie with Matthew Broderick). Spanish director Paco Cabezas does a solid job of keeping the affair playful throughout, with solid stylistic choices and great music cues (Saint Model’s “My Type” makes for a fittingly breezy opener and closer for the film). Cabezas also does a nice job with the action setpieces, directing them with vibrancy and spunk.
Much of this effort would not have played out successfully without a charming cast. Stars Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick are easily able to dispel that potential issue. Both are known as two of the most bubbly and affable actors working today, making for a dynamic and fun pairing on-screen. Their natural chemistry makes their moments together some of the film’s best. Supporting players like Tim Roth and even RZA bring some fun to their small roles.
Landis may thrive at crafting dialogue, but the story here is a throwaway. The played-out setup is able to feel fresh, but much of what happens feels incredibly contrived and predictable. Audiences can see every twist and turn from jump street, which is a little surprising considering how “genius” Landis is.
What keeps Mr. Right from being anything all that memorable is its failure to make anything feel genuine. All the characters act in such a hyper-sensitive way that its hard to find them all that relatable. Even the great dynamic between Rockwell and Kendrick does not pack nearly the punch it should have, with their charm being wasted by how broad the film goes at points. Just a pinch of realism or earnestness would have made the characters and situations really pop.
Mr. Right may not be Just Wright but it ain’t Wrong either (movie puns!!). It’s a brisk fun time throughout and should make for a solid date night movie. Just don’t be surprised if you forget the movie in a week or so.
Mr. Right (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime a character does something quirky
Do a Shot: whenever “My Type” plays
Admit it, it’s damn catchy.
Do a Shot: whenever Sam Rockwell dances with glee
Take a Drink: for each predictable plot moment