Film Review


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The Right Kind of Wrong

Catherine O'Hara and Ryan Kwanten in The Right Kind of Wrong. [Photo: Magnolia Pictures]

The Right Kind of Wrong .5 out of 4 star0-5

The Right Kind of Wrong is so in love with its unoriginal premise that it can't see the forest for the trees, treating reality like an occasionally relevant prop and stalking as a sweetly romantic gesture. The stalker in question is Leo (Ryan Kwanten), a failed author and scruffy dishwasher whose wife, Julie (Kristen Hager), cruelly leaves him after her blog, Why You Suck, on which she meticulously catalogues his deficiencies, becomes an Internet sensation and lands her a book deal. With his every flaw made public, Leo is regularly made fun of by acquaintances and strangers alike for, among other things, his tendency to make grandiose romantic gestures in public, lack of musical talent, and dislike of Asian food.

Not only is the film oblivious to the fact that Leo's ostensibly terrible characters flaws are hardly relationship deal-breakers, it rather callously supports the ridicule of what is an unmistakable psychological disorder: his fear of heights. Leo understands this, as does the audience; it's the rest of the world that doesn't. Director Jeremiah S. Chechik tries to use this logic to make Leo endearing, but does so without questioning why every other character's behavior is so stridently irrational, or fleshing out a sufficiently absurd diegesis where Why You Suck might actually become meme-worthy.

The downtrodden Leo eventually meets Collette (Sarah Canning), falling in love with her at first sight on her wedding day and, to her horror, asking her out. The rest of the story practically writes itself, with Leo refusing to give up on his romantic pursuit (he finds a helpful friend in Colette's estranged mother, Tess, played by Catherine O'Hara) and Colette's husband (Ryan McPartlin) resorting to the most drastic and douchiest of measures—including an attempt to get Leo's best friend deported back to India—to stop Leo and Colette from interacting.

As it turns out, Leo and Colette are both anti-establishment and thereby a great match. Though it's unsurprising for a couple of young folks from British Columbia to care about the environment and hate Starbucks, their spouting of vaguely leftist talking points isn't cute, but clueless, and shorthand for easy characterization and weak symbolism. Colette hates roses but loves sunflowers, which to Leo "just makes sense" (because roses are fascist, or patriarchal, or something, and sunflowers are somehow more Mother Nature-y). A better film would have at least tried to take this kind of ludicrous wishy-washy liberalism to task instead of choosing to make the characters' slacktivism a source of sweetness.

In one of the film's many stalking scenes, Leo watches with glee as Colette steals a copy of The New York Times from Starbucks, supposedly her daily middle-finger to evil corporatism. But if it's a symbolic act, it's loaded with other connotations: Does she hate journalism, too, an industry not known for being particularly evil or financially prosperous? When a film relies so heavily on its characters to charm us with misguided political activism, one can't help but want to rail against the implications of the characters' actions in comprehensive detail, perhaps in list form. And maybe on a site called Why You Suck.

Director(s): Jeremiah S. Chechik Screenwriter(s): Megan Martin, Tim Sandlin Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Canning, Catherine O'Hara, Will Sasso, Ryan McPartlin, Kristen Hager, James A. Woods, Raoul Bhaneja, Jennifer Baxter, Christopher Russell Distributor: Magnolia Pictures Runtime: 97 min Rating: R Year: 2014

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