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Feel free to miss ‘The Wrong Missy’ – I wish I had

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Sometimes, you just know.

When you’ve been reviewing movies for as long as I have, you start to have pretty good instincts with regards to what kind of film you’re getting even before you sit down to watch it. That isn’t to say that movies are incapable of surprising me – that’s not the case at all – but the reality is that experience gives you the ability to make some fairly accurate educated guesses.

All this is to say that I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into with Netflix’s “The Wrong Missy,” the new Netflix original from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. In truth, all you really need to hear is “David Spade vehicle” to have a general sense of what you’re in for.

However, it’s difficult to articulate just how off-the-rails terrible this movie actually is. Casting David Spade as anything resembling a romantic lead is a mistake on its face, but when you incorporate the lackluster script, disinterested direction and a checklist of the Sandler formula playbook, you’re left with a movie driven by sheer cringe and little else. It is dumb, generally unpleasant and woefully unfunny.

Spade stars as Tim Morris, an executive at a vaguely-defined financial company; he’s been struggling for some time following the breakup of his engagement. We actually meet him on a disastrous blind date with a free-spirited weirdo named Missy (Lauren Lapkus, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie”), whose loud lunacy leads him to attempt to flee through a bathroom window.

Three months later, he still hasn’t gotten back on the dating horse, despite the constant (and unnecessarily coarse) insistence from his buddy Nate (Nick Swardson, “Deported”), the boundary-ignoring head of HR. However, an unexpected encounter at the airport with a seeming soulmate named Melissa (Molly Sims, “Ride or Die”) leads Tim to decide to take a chance: he invites her to join him as his date for his company’s corporate retreat at a tropical resort (not least because his ex-fiancee Julia (Sarah Chalke, TV’s “Rick and Morty”) will be there with her new beau Rich (Chris Witasake, “What Men Want”), one of Tim’s co-workers).

But wouldn’t you know it – he invites the wrong Missy. He’s on the plane, awaiting her arrival (because sure, of course he wouldn’t see her again in the interim), when who should show up by crazy Missy Number One. Tim, rather than explain the situation, goes with it when she explains that she was about to jump off a bridge when she got his text. And so – off to paradise.

The whole weekend is built around impressing the new boss, a standard-issue rich a-hole named Jack Winstone (Geoff Pierson, TV’s “Designated Survivor”), in an effort to land a big promotion. Tim’s main competition is fellow VP Jess (Jackie Sandler, “The Last Summer”), known around the office as “The Barracuda,” but the real obstacle is Missy, whose tremendously off-putting weirdness leads to hijinks that put Tim’s promotion – and his job – in jeopardy.

She is indeed the wrong Missy. But – and hear the movie out – what if she isn’t?

“The Wrong Missy” is … not good. The script – co-written by Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett – comes off as something that Sandler rejected as lacking in nuance (the utter absence of Sandler from the proceedings is noteworthy, to be sure, though there’s plenty of room for the usual battalion of hangers-on). The direction – from Happy Madison vet Tyler Spindel – is, let’s just call it workmanlike. It’s all built on the “working vacation” foundation that has marked the majority of the Sandlerverse’s self-generated output over the past decade-plus – tropical setting, ludicrous plotting, random cameos, assorted buddies/family members … and lazy humor. Sorry – “humor.”

I’m not averse to cringe comedy – there are a lot of potential laughs to be mined from awkwardness – but this film amps up the cringe and basically forgets the comedy. It’s off-putting for the sake of being off-putting; any laughs that this movie elicits are practically accidental, the result of discomfort or utter disbelief rather than anything actually, you know, funny.

And let’s be real: David Spade is not equipped to carry a movie. He just isn’t. Under the best of circumstances, he’s maybe competent. These are not the best of circumstances – he comes off as disinterested and flat, with zero screen presence. He’s just boring – not even bad enough to be enjoyed ironically. The usual suspects give their usual schtick – Sandler’s wife Jackie, Swardson, Allen Covert … they’re all doing the same thing they literally always do. Hell, Rob Schneider even shows up, because OF COURSE HE DOES, doing his weird ethnic thing that always feels a little racist.

Even Lapkus and Winstone – who absolutely deserve better – can’t overcome the Sisyphean obstacles this film has put in front of them. They deal with it in their own ways, though. Winstone is a pro, but you can still see him struggle to give a crap. Meanwhile, Lapkus goes for it, and I mean she GOES FOR IT. Every choice she makes is a desperate effort to turn garbage into gold, but she simply can’t pull it off (not that anyone could). Out of everyone in this tragic s—tcircus of the damned, she’s the one I feel most badly for.

“The Wrong Missy” is 90 excruciating minutes long, thanks to the padding provided by an inexplicable talent show sequence that makes even less sense than the rest of the movie. It isn’t the longest hour-and-a-half I’ve ever spent, but it’s in the conversation. I’ll put it this way: the fact that I resent this movie for stealing time from me during a period in my life when time has lost nearly all meaning probably tells you everything you need to know.

Long story short, if you miss “The Wrong Missy,” you’ve made the right choice.

[1 out of 5]

Last modified on Friday, 15 May 2020 15:52

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