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mr. wrong Mr. Wrong
Starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Pullman;
with Joan Cusack, Joan Plowright, Ellen Cleghorne, Dean Stockwell
Directed by Nick Castle

I've talked about this in eDrive message threads: there are Films and there are Movies. Film are those hours of celluloid which aspire to be discussed in Universities and written about in textbooks. They are filled with million dollar stars and created by million dollar directors and writers. High-paid critics rhapsodize about the subtleties in script and the importance of the project package. And most of the time you pay your hard earned dollars and sit quietly for the three or so hours these monstrosities usually run, thinking "I was told this was supposed to be GOOD!"

[if the expectations are incredibly high, Cranky goes against the grain and rates the film $Zero, and waits patiently for the Oscar nominations, when said film comes up with an equivalent goose egg of nods.]

Then there are Movies, which are multi-minutes of celluloid that aspire to do nothing but entertain. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But you have no expectations when you walk into the theater -- the movie may have been your second pick anyway -- so the disappointment is not that great when and/or if the movie doesn't live up.

Case in point: Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres (of TV's Ellen) along with comediennes Ellen Cleghorne and Joan Cusack (both of TV's Saturday Night Live) and comic actors Dean Stockwell (of TV's Quantum Leap) and Polly Holliday (of the big 70s TV hit Alice). Sue me, I like TV people. Most of my industry friends are TV people. And like most of us who work in Entertainment (Cranky wrote and produced Entertainment Tonight style shows for the rock'n'roll oriented NBC Source Radio network), we know our work is disposable. We know it is meant to entertain. Period. Once you start thinking big; most of the time you take a big fall.

Also in Mr. Wrong is the eminent Joan Plowright, most recently from the adaptation of TV's Dennis The Menace -- I'm stretching to make a point here. And co-headliner Bill Pullman is easily recognized from the most enjoyable adaptation of TV's Caspar, and my ex's favorite, While You Were Sleeping.

Mr. Wrong is meant to be a candy cotton fluff of entertainment. It is not representative of the human condition; of biological clocks ticking and the dregs of manhood left behind for the prime of womanhood. It is a comedy movie. ***Movie.*** Important point.

Mr. Wrong is, as the guy behind me (Crankified and still laughing hard as the credits rolled and the audience walked out) said "the stupidest thing I've ever seen." But, if you've had more than your share of disastrous relationships or dates, every cliche you see on screen is something you've probably experienced. Every groan is a groan of recognition.

DeGeneres is Martha Alston, a thirtysomething professional (she produces a San Diego TV TalkShow, perfectly cast with Robert Goulet as a Regis Philbin type) who, at the marriage of a younger sister, is mournfully reassured by friends and family that she "will be next." She doesn't necessarily want to be next but then, totally out of the blue, Prince Charming (Pullman) arrives. Whitman Crawford, is stinking rich, breathtakingly handsome, and wonderful in every possible way. He asks permission for the first kiss. He takes her for a walk on a moonlit beach. He writes (incredibly horrid) poetry, and a has a thing for overblown 70s-ish rock bands Boston, REO Speedwagon and Toto.

Um... Cranky liked Boston and REO. Maybe there's hope here...

Nah. There is one exceptionally funny running gag about one of the most vomitous hard-rock ballads, by Foreigner, ever recorded. Not to mention a throwaway, which I won't spoil, about Stevie Nicks.

And the parents adore him.

It's all too perfect. Then, Martha tells Whitman to "be himself," and he transforms into a most obnoxious, love struck fool that any of us who have been through dates or relationships from Hell will have no problem recognizing. Saying "I'm not interested," just makes him all the more convinced that she is just reticent to commit. Which, in turn, makes him all the more aggressive. Whitman is "stinking," so everyone Martha knows (or hires -- Stockwell as the P.I. supposed to convince the lout to keep away) thinks she's nuts, and that he is the cat's pajamas. As it develops, Mr. Wrong revs way over the red line (pun intended). It is comedy pushed into the Twilight Zone, featuring a totally psycho performance by Cusack as a jealous ex-girlfriend -- this is where the Stevie Nicks gag comes in -- who torments Martha in the most juvenile of ways. Pulling her hair. Sticking gum in same. Staking her down in the desert with honey smeared all over her face, for the ants to be dumped thereupon. It all culminates in a murder in Mexico. Sort of. It is all bizarrely funny.

If you watch TV at all you couldn't have missed the commercial. Mr. Wrong appears to be a one trick pony. Well, yes it is. DeGeneres is a comedienne who works by reacting to the situations around her, and she does that well. She was one of the more interesting characters on a long ago Fox M-80 (the net wasn't big enough to have "bombs" back then) called Duet, the mention of which is strangely missing from the PR kit. In the years since, her comedy has refined itself. On her television show, the situations are just quirky, and her reactions are funny. In Mr. Wrong, the events she must react to go so far over the edge that most of the audience I sat with was clutching their guts, rolled up in their seats.

Unless they walked out. Some did. Those that did not, myself included, sat there giggling.

Almost constantly. I have it on tape.

If you like DeGeneres, Mr. Wrong is a giggle a minute. If you don't, you'd do best to avoid it. As I wrote last week in the review of Broken Arrow, "Sometimes things are just so bad they're good." Which was the general reaction of the theatergoers Crankified after the show. Most shook their heads, as if to say how terrible Mr. Wrong was. But there were huge smiles on their faces when they did so.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Mr. Wrong, he would have paid . . .

$4.00

...the price of a TV Pay-Per-View here in the Apple. I think that's about right.

Click to buy films starring Ellen DeGeneres
Click to buy films starring Bill Pullman
Click to buy films starring Joan Cusack

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.