Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Media Mom After Dark: The Decoy Bride

Valentine's Day may have come and gone, but that doesn't mean the romance has to stop. There's always time for a movie about luuuuuuurrrrrve. Especially if you're, well...me.

What do you get when you mix Ugly Betty, Pixar's Brave, and Doctor Who? Why, the cast of The Decoy Bride, of course!
Hollywood starlet Lara Tyler is finally getting her dream paparazzi-free wedding. Or, at least, she thinks she is. But when shutterbug Marco disrupts her nuptials to James Arbor (her favorite novelist) yet again, she's determined to have a private ceremony if it kills her. Her publicist stumbles upon on idea: to have the wedding on the remote island of Hegg, which is the setting for James's first (and so far, only) novel, The Ornithologist's Wife.

James himself is a mediocre writer who relies far too heavily on sappy dialogue, verbose descriptions, and weak plot lines. He intentionally wrote the book so long that he didn't think anyone would ever read it. Much to his chagrin, many people have. And they're eating it up. But now, James is struggling to write another book. It seems he poured all the creative juices he had into that one saccharine excuse for a novel. It really is pathetic. After all the Hegg Book Club only rated the book a 4 out of 10.

Everyone on Hegg has read the book, of course. After all, there are only 75 people on the island, most of whom are 75...or older. And then, there's Katie. Katie is the island's last remaining bachelorette. She's 32, has no prospects (what with the last eligible bachelor on the island recently marrying), and is dreaming of a better life as a writer somewhere far away from the tiny island she calls home. Her last gig at the trouser catalog didn't end well. She ran out of ways to describe pockets. Katie lives at the island's only B&B with her dying mother. She's not even certain why the island has a B&B. No one ever visits. But then, a marketing conference is held in the island's ancient castle ruins,the main setting of Arber's novel.
He may have slightly exaggerated its condition in the book, though...
The marketing conference is all a facade, of course. It's actually the crew setting up for the Arber/Tyler wedding. But they're not letting anyone know that, lest the paparazzi descend and ruin yet another ceremony. Quite by chance, Katie and James meet in the island's public restroom, which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a cow. After an awkward exchange, they part ways. While Katie's been unknowingly chatting it up with the celebrity groom however, Katie's mother Iseabail has figured the whole thing out and leaked the story to the press for money so she can travel the world before she dies.

Frustrated at having their wedding interrupted again, Lara takes off in a rage. Her publicist however, decides to stage a fake wedding for the cameras so the press can finally leave and Lara can have her dream wedding in peace. All they need is a decoy bride. And it seems Katie is the only viable choice.

Will Lara and James finally enjoy their wedded bliss? Will Katie ever find true love? Or at the very least, a way off this stupid island?
This film is rampant with quirky charm. Its awkward humor, sweet innocence (sans a few curse words and a small sex joke), and predictable yet enjoyable plot makes for a fun romp that you'll want to view more than once.

Katie (portrayed by the alarmingly talented yet severely underrated Kelly Macdonald, the voice of Merida from Pixar's Brave) is portrayed as a very rounded character. A lot of romance films have very cardboard leading ladies with very stereotypical backgrounds: They're pretty, smart, but otherwise bland with very little uniqueness about them. In a world of dull Bella Swans, Katie is a true shining gem with a genuine personality. Yeah, she hates her pathetic little life on the pathetic little island. But she doesn't moan and wail about it. She embraces her less that ideal state in life with an oddball sense of humor and instead of sulking or giving up, decides at her boss's suggestion to write a travel guide for Hegg. She knows darn well no one will probably ever read it, but she throws herself completely into it all the same, narrating the island's features with warmth and a sharp wit.
James (played by the brilliant and inimitable David Tennant, who surprisingly does not use his natural Scottish accent in a film set in Scotland) is his own worst critic, and with good reason. The Ornithologist's Wife truly is awful, and he knows it. Whenever Lara starts quoting part of the book to him, he sneers in disgust at the melodramatic drivel. But at the same time, he struggles to find his identity as an author. It comes as no surprise then to learn that quirky Katie helps him find his muse and write a second book. And this one is actually good. But, as I've stated, Katie is such a well-rounded character, he really couldn't help but write a well-rounded novel. The movie is as much a story of self-discovery for him as it is a romance between the two leads.
Plus...it's David Freakin' Tennant. *le sigh*
The rest of the cast are mostly British television stars in some form or other, with perhaps the only exception being Michael Urie from the American show Ugly Betty. All told, though, the whole cast does a fantastic job of bringing to like the odd little characters who live on the island, and Lara Tyler's poor overworked management team.

The ending is a sweet and touching one. We learn that Iseabail eventually did die from her illness, but was given the opportunity to travel by a much-matured Lara Tyler who learned some humility and humanity from the ailing woman and eventually became not just a better person, but a better actress because of it. It's a nice twist that brings depth to what I have already said is a predictable ending. But predictable or not, it's still flippin' adorable.

This quaint little film, with a breathtaking setting, is the art deco bracelet at the pawn shop. The shapes are a bit too clunky. The colors are a bit too loud. Just sitting in the display case, you'd swear it's something you'd never be caught dead in. But then, for some unknown reason, you feel the urge to try it on. And once the clasp is set, everything just fits. It suddenly has a whole new personality and you find yourself never wanting to take it off. That's how this film works. You see it in your Netflix queue. You read the description. It sounds either too far fetched or too cliche to be any good. But you press play anyway, and when the credits roll, you add it to your favorites list. It's just cute, perky, and fun. And who doesn't love a movie like that?


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