Stars: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick
2 (out of 5) Globes
Remember the ’90s? It was a time when Tarantino knockoffs were more prevalent than comic book movies, YA entries and cutrate evangelical propaganda combined. Cinemas were clogged with cucumber cool, shruggingly amoral hitmen who shot two guns at once and hepped-up actors shouting through artless blobs of f-bombs. The era passed on, as all things do, but with “Mr. Right,” hotshot screenwriter Max Landis tries to resuscitate it, faring about as well as the monster-creating heroes of his lame script for last year’s “Victor Frankenstein.”
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Landis, the son of the actually talented “Animal House” maven John, has quickly established himself as a smirking trust fund kid who gets too many nice things. To wit: “Mr. Right” may be a generic hodgepodge of gunplay, swearing and attempted screwball rom-com banter, but it wound up scoring two overqualified leads anyway. No less than Sam Rockwell plays fun-loving killer Francis, who’s hunted by one of those token evil crime syndicates with an army of dispensible hothead associates. While lying low, Francis winds up meet-cuteing Anna Kendrick’s Martha, a cranked-to-11 flibbertigibbet recently cuckolded by her latest ex-boyfriend. Francis keeps his name and his occupation a secret even as things get hot (or at least cute), but it’s only a matter of time before the secret comes out.
When that particular cat prances out of the bag, the moment at least gets a welcome subversive spin. It’s the film’s one genuinely clever move, in a film that usually only think it’s being clever. It’s also a movie where a woman not only doesn’t mind that she’s been lied to, but also goes along with it, conforming to her new man’s questionable lifestyle. It’s an unconscious male fantasy — or it would be if anything Landis writes didn’t felt like it just came out of a super rad pitch session. It wants to be “Grosse Pointe Blank,” which does it few favors, lacking as it does any of that film’s deep wells of soul. The characters are cool caricatures, nothing more, and Rockwell and Kendrick respond by playing them as broad types — charming broad types, mind you, especially Rockwell, who’s rarely more engaging when he’s laughing his way through roles and busting out a bit of light soft-shoeing. He’s just having fun. At least someone is.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge