Obviously, I’ve got a bit of a blind spot when it comes to David Tennant (though in my defense, I can hardly blame myself), which is why I found myself in a bit of a pickle with the movie The Decoy Bride. Because, see, while I feel very, very strongly about this actor, I also feel very, very strongly about how much I completely abhor romantic comedies. In other words, while I’ll happily watch all sorts of schlock based on the casting, this is truly a terrible, terrible movie.
It’s seriously the most perfunctory thing I’ve ever seen; it’s not so much a movie as a checklist, and it’s not overly interested in being that, either. It’s determined to hit every single romcom trope in existence, but it also wants to do so as quickly as possible – I mean, my class periods in high school were longer than this movie. Hell, I’ve seen Facebook statuses longer than this movie. It just flies through the meet cute, barely acknowledges the contrived conflict that makes our lovers distrust one another, and seems to forget that it’s supposed to have a heartwarming declaration of love, so that gets awkwardly tacked on and run over a bit by the credits. It kind of feels like they’re so embarrassed about not showing any originality to speak of that they’re hoping that they can get through this fast enough that you won’t notice how derivative it is. (For the record, they can’t.)
But what really pisses me off about this movie is that sometimes it will accidentally wander up near something that’s kind of interesting. Like, for example, when Lara (Alice Eve) threatens to push the dying, wheelchair-bound Iseabail (Maureen Beattie) off of a cliff unless Iseabail throws away the money she got from leaking the story about Lara’s wedding, and Iseabail takes a moment to think about it. A really long moment. Because, see, she wants to use the money to travel the world before she dies, and without that money, she’ll be stuck on the island where she’s lived her whole life, and it won’t really matter whether she dies now or in a few months. This is genuinely compelling, which the movie seems to realize, because it quickly gets skittery and segues into jokes about how vapid actresses are. For a second there, there was this glimpse of a movie about a desperate, lonely old woman trying without much hope and without much time to fulfill a lifelong dream, only to be mocked by those younger and more fortunate than her. But that would have been far too like actual quality for The Decoy Bride, so it dropped that like NBC and the showrunner of a critically acclaimed Thursday night comedy, in exchange for masterful cinematic experience of watching half the cast wander around an old bathroom.
Look, the two female leads are perfectly lovely (though I was amused to see how quickly the film forgot that one of them had threatened to murder an old lady), and David Tennant is nine kinds of charming before breakfast. And if I were to think of other nice things to say about this movie – well, I guess there’s the fact that, here in the US, we don’t see all that many romantic comedies set in an secluded small town in Scotland, so there’s some variety to be found in the fact that the quirky villagers all have Scottish accents, and also they get to make fun of haggis. But yeah, that’s about all I’ve got.
Basically, it’s a completely unoffensive little flick, unless you’re offended by stupidity and lack of ambition, in which case it will make you want to throw things. I can’t really hate this movie, because that would be like hating dust bunnies or anchovies or Paris Hilton, in that there’s just no point and they’re already sort of pathetic. I would like it if this were a smarter, better movie, but it’s, very simply, not. If you want to waste 88 minutes, it’s a free country. But personally, about halfway through this movie, I’d already forgotten it, and so my suggestion is, spend your time elsewhere.