5.5 out of 10
Release Date: 9th March 2012
Director: Sheree Folkson
Cast: Kelly MacDonald, David Tennant, Alice Eve, Michael Urie, Sally Phillips, Federico Castellucio, Maureen Beattie, Hamish Clark, Tony Roper with James Fleet and Dylan Moran
Writer: Sally Phillips
Trailer: THE DECOY BRIDE
NOT another wedding pic! Yes here comes the third out of four UK based Wedding flicks we’ve reviewed recently. Actually, The Decoy Bride turns out to be my favourite (by a small margin) and was released at the cinemas before the others. Can you name the other three (OK, one was an Australian / UK co-prod)? No? They were: The Wedding Video, The Knot and A Few Best Men. The Decoy Bride out-does all of these because it has a fairly interesting plot conceit, a pretty funny script and the best cast of all in that they seem to be able to weather even the clunkiest elements. Writer Sally Phillips was clearly taking notes at The Richard Curtis school of British rom-com and duplicates that mix of dorky charm and slapstick that continues to work for him. As it is some of the situations are very funny, but sadly not enough of them. OK, for better context let’s give the plot a brief overview.
After a failed marriage, Katie (KELLY MACDONALD – TRAINSPOTTING) returns to her home on the Outer Hebridean Island, Hegg. At the same time, Hollywood actress Lara Tyler (ALICE EVE – SEX & THE CITY 2) has chosen the Laird’s castle for her marriage to British author, James Arber (DAVID TENNANT – DR WHO). The island has great significance to her because it is the setting of James’ only novel (he’s secretly googled the place and has never been there before). The other benefit is that it’s so far off the radar that the paparazzi will never find them. Showbiz agents, Michael Urie (UGLY BETTY) and Sally Phillips (BRIDGET JONES DIARY) do their best to keep the subterfuge going. Only the greedy and inquisitive residents of Hegg eventually tip off the press causing the agents to employ a ‘decoy’. After several convolutions, the job falls to Katie. During the melee of the fake wedding, Katie accidentally signs the register with her own name, binding her together with James. It’s hate at first sight (obviously).
Why make a complicated rom-com? Well farce and weddings seem to go hand in hand on screen. The more outlandish the events the more opportunity for fun and laughter turn up. So why doesn’t The Decoy Bride gel? It’s probably because it exists in a world where everyone is a broad cliche. The islanders are stereotyped, the Hollywood actress is a cipher, our leads are well cast riffs on nearly everyother role they’ve ever played. Even James Fleet (CHARLOTTE GRAY) gets to wheel out his dim but minted gentleman schtick. Saying it’s the best of the four wedding comedies to come along this year is praise of sorts but it’s still a minor league success though because nothing convinces. It’s set in that weird version of Britain where people like TAMARA DREWE come from, a Britain that seems to be on nodding terms with a mid-atlantic idea of where we live. David Tennant‘s James is always being encouraged to write about what he knows and it would seem that Sally Phillips hasn’t followed this much. Her experience of rural life is probably along the same lines as the Laird’s. I’m not sure, but I do like a little bit of meat on the bone when it comes to characterisation. I mean now that UK filmmakers have successfully depicted life in ‘tha streetz’ when are they going to tackle authentic life in “tha haystackz?’ But coming to think of it, do we need social realism in our comedy? Let’s see if there ever is one.
Kelly MacDonald does look a bit stranded at times in the comedy lead role but once she’s linked up with David Tennant she wins the battle against a difficult script. The agents are left high and dry by the plot and Michael Urie (UGLY BETTY) in particular is woefully mis-cast. An actor like Richard E Grant or Alan Rickman would have stolen the whole show in such a role. Similarly comedy favourite Dylan Moran (NOTTING HILL) is wasted in a side role of a tabloid editor, one can assume the majority of his role is on the cutting room floor somewhere. There is no evidence of the manic nut-job he usually plays on show on this occasion. This is the type of film that finds glee in old people swearing and pants splitting but as I said it does have it’s moments of hilarity and it ended up winning me over in its quieter moments.
5.5 out of 10 – One day there will be a truly good comedy about rural life, until then we have to make do with this interpretation by the ‘landed class’. It’s funny enough but tellingly it feels forced at times. It does benefit from a goofy lead performance by David Tennant, playing well within his comfort zones, some invention and a great setting (The Isle Of Man doubling for Hegg!) Recommended only if you’re addicted to wedding comedies or you’re a hopeless David Tennant groupie.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Kelly MacDonald: Anna Karenina (2012), Boardwalk Empire (TV), Brave (voice), Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – part 2, Choke, No Country For Old Men, Nanny McPhee, A Cock and Bull Story, Finding Neverland, Intermission, Gosford Park, Some Voices, House!, The Loss Of Sexual Innocence, Elizabeth I, Stella Does Tricks, Trainspotting
- David Tennant: Broadchurch (TV), What We Did On Our Holiday, Postman Pat Movie (voice), Doctor Who – Day of the Doctor, Nativity 2, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (voice), Fright Night (2011), St Trinians 2, Glorious 39, Dr Who (TV), Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire, LA Without a Map
- Alice Eve: Cold Comes The Night, Star Trek 2 (2013), Men In Black 3, The Raven, Sex & The City 2, She’s Outta My League, Crossing Over, Big Nothing, Starter For 10
- Michael Urie: Ugly Betty (TV)
- Sally Phillips: Miranda (TV), Green Wing (TV), Bridget Jones 1 & 2, Mean Machine, Birthday Girl, Born Romantic
- Federico Castelluccio: The Sopranos (TV)
- Maureen Beattie: The Bill (TV), Casualty (TV)
- Hamish Clark: Monarch Of The Glen (TV)
- James Fleet: Mr Turner, Coronation Street (TV), The Vicar Of Dibley (TV), A Cock & Bull Story, The Phantom Of The Opera (2004), Blackball, Charlotte Gray, Kevin & Perry Go Large, Remember Me? (1997), Sense and Sensibility, The Grotesque, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Electric Moon, Blue Black Permanent
- Dylan Moran: Calvary, Good Vibrations, Run Fatboy Run, Shaun Of The Dead, Black Books (TV), The Actors, Notting Hill