Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
THE WRONG MISSY
Rated TV-MA, 89 minutes
Directed by: Tyler Spindel
I would have never in a million years, in the middle of a frightening pandemic no less, suspected that a film would have the power to take my mind off this unrelenting hellscape for 89 minutes and commute my angst into elation. But here we are, standing in deference to and grateful appreciation of THE WRONG MISSY. Director Tyler Spindel’s raunch-fringed romcom about a dude who mistakenly invites the wrong gal on a corporate retreat delivers laughter in the most unexpected places. While there’s value in the slender plotline’s predictability, it’s the hijinks and hilarity that fill in the cracks which make the escapism resonate. I grossly underestimated how much I’d belly laugh in the first 20 minutes, let alone the remaining run time.
Mild-mannered Tim (David Spade) is attempting to get over a recent romantic breakup when he’s set up on a blind date with Missy (Lauren Lapkus). Instantly he knows she’s not the one for him. It’s not her appearance that repels him. Rather, it’s her unconventional, outrageous sense of humor, joie de vivre and penchant for prattling that rubs him the wrong way. She plays pranks on him, shows him a freakishly large security knife that she’s named and scares him off, leading him to break a leg trying to escape her. It’s a disaster.
Soon thereafter, Tim meets another Missy (Molly Sims), who’s the entire package. Gorgeous, like-minded and, as destiny would have it, in the exact same life predicament as Tim. Taking a leap of faith and thinking that being seen with arm candy like her would prove him an asset to his boss, he texts Missy, asking her to join him on a corporate retreat. However, he unwittingly texts the other Missy instead, which he discovers as their flight to Hawaii embarks. Had Tim deleted the wrong Missy’s contact right after their date from Hell, there’d be no movie. He didn’t, and that only feeds into the narrative’s outlandish absurdity. He’s now forced to survive the next few days with this eccentric exhibitionist in a luxurious tropical paradise on the pretense his boss will give him the promotion he’s been clamoring for.
The picture’s premise, courtesy of screenwriters Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett, lends itself to classic screwball set-ups – like Tim’s aforementioned mistaken text, Missy messing with his boss’ marriage, sophomoric humor involving Missy’s uninhibited sexual nature, and the virtues of CBD-laced toothpaste. There are hints of vaudevillian-inspired physical comedy with the company’s talent showcase and Missy and Tim’s pratfall-laced, botched threesome with his ex-fiancée (Sarah Chalke). There’s also purely straight-forward funny minutiae like when Missy screams at a bunch of know-it-all kids in the hotel lobby, or when Tim’s nosy work colleague Nate (Nick Swardson) discusses the critical merits of FREE WILLY with their stoner boat captain (Rob Schneider).
Spindel and editor Brian M. Robinson let the humor land with the appropriate timing, giving the film an energetic, snappy pace. They know how to craft the comedy for maximum effect. They’ll linger a little longer on drunk Missy figuring out how many drinks she’s had, allowing the perfect build to the punchline. They give air to the sharp repartee between the ensemble, like when Spade and Swardson are dealt a burn by an uptight office rival (Jackie Sandler) and then ad-lib before effortlessly falling back into the scene as written.
Lapkus is absolutely fearless and hilarious in the titular role. She infuses her character’s obnoxiousness with warmth, a dash of heart and likeability – a true feat. Spade graciously yields the floor to her. His shining moments as the “straight man” in their act are when he’s taking the brunt of the joke, balancing out Lapkus’ broad strokes. Supporting Happy Madison players – like Swardson, who blessedly tones down his usual grating shtick, and Schneider, who’s weirdness is best when peppered into their features – add buoyancy to the shenanigans.
It’s also not without its blights. A couple of the instigating story elements are unceremoniously dropped, morphing into vestigial plot devices. Tim’s ex-fiancé vanishes, along with Tim’s FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL-esque spiteful conflict with her. The drama with his boss, and his urgency for that promotion, also doesn’t serve much of a narrative function in the third act.
That said, though the movie isn’t perfect, it is a perfect pick-me-up during these joyless times. And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.
THE WRONG MISSY is now streaming on Netflix.