Mr. Right

On paper, Mr. Right seems like an interesting idea: take two different kinds of movies, smash 'em together and see if you get something interesting. One movie is a quirky hitman comedy starring Sam Rockwell. The other is a conventional rom-com starring Anna Kendrick. In both cases, the actor is better than the material they've been given. Mix these two underwhelming movies together, however, and you get... er... one underwhelming movie. A sorta-kinda unique underwhelming movie, though!

Let's start with the rom-com. Martha (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect) is just chilling out at the house: drinking wine, cooking, dancing in her living room and lip-synching to the radio. Then, without warning, her boyfriend stumbles through the door with another woman in his arms. They start getting busy on the kitchen table. Martha is understandably upset, but her boyfriend tells her that he's only cheating because he doesn't get enough emotional support from her. Then he tries to pressure her into having a threesome with his mistress. Thus ends the relationship.

Over in a different sort of movie, professional assassin Mr. Right (Sam Rockwell, Matchstick Men) goes to a hotel to speak with a women who hired him to kill her husband. He informs the woman that he's going to kill her instead because, “murder is wrong.”

“But you're a hitman!” the woman protests.

“Nobody's perfect,” he shrugs, inspiring memories of a considerably better comedy.

Shortly after this, the imperfect hitman and the heartbroken woman have a meet-cute in a drug-store: they bump into a display case filled with condoms, and then make nervous small talk while holding a bunch of condom boxes. Mr. Right persuades Martha to go out on a date with him, though he warns her that some very dangerous people are trying to kill him. She assumes he's joking and agrees. They take a pleasant stroll through the park, and every now and then Mr. Right is forced to pull Martha out of the path of a bullet. She assumes this is some sort of elaborate act, and just goes with it. This goes on longer than you might expect it to.

Eventually, Martha learns what's what and is forced weigh her genuine interest in Mr. Right against the fact that he is a murderous psychopath. While she's trying to make up her mind, the film shifts into thriller mode, with the ferocious Hopper (Tim Roth, The Incredible Hulk) and a handful of colorful assassins (played by the likes of Michael Eklund, Anson Mount and RZA) attempting to capture or kill Mr. Right. Naturally, Martha's relationship with him makes her a victim, too.

Mr. Right has an abundance of problems, but the biggest is that it seems entirely too amused by its own premise. It's obvious that the filmmakers are content to assume that their viewers will find the whole notion of a romantic comedy involving violent assassins absolutely hysterical, and too many scenes have nothing to offer other than a sense of “hey, look what we're doing!” enthusiasm. Additionally, it leans too heavily on obviously-employed pop songs, has a tendency to temporarily turn most of its characters into idiots for the sake of moving the plot forward and struggles to deliver action scenes that feel convincing (perhaps hoping that their jokey nature will help viewers forgive the limp, uh, execution).

Still, the film wins a few points for its puppy-like eagerness to please, and the stars at least manage to make it watchable. It's no surprise that the film is at its best when it just relaxes and lets Rockwell and Kendrick riff with each other. They've got a nice chemistry together, and both manage to sell the fairly unlikely arcs they're asked to deal with. If nothing else, maybe Mr. Right will inspire someone to give them a better project to collaborate on.

Mr. Right

Rating: ★ (out of four)
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 92 minutes
Release Year: 2016