There are no redeeming features.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Mr. Wrong" is an absolutely terrible movie. It should be shoved quickly into the coal chute where it can drop to the bottom of the pit, there to lie forgotten forever. If the three writers listed in the credits must share the blame for this fiasco, whichever of them wrote the first twenty minutes was at least headed in the right direction.

Martha Alston (Ellen DeGeneres) sets the tone: "I was 31 and still single." The emotions that attend that statement wash over her as she watches her sister marry Mr. Perfect. While friends and relatives cock their heads pityingly and say, "You're next, dear," Martha decides to stop looking. She likes her job as the make-it-happen gal for a TV talk show that exults over such plans as a Gomer Pyle retrospective and a "worst of Richard Burton" film festival.

The problem: Martha is very lonely. Taking a break from a steady diet of evening TV, she goes to a local bar, drops the quarter she is about to put in the jukebox, follows the hand that picks it up, and there, inch by inch, stands Mr. Right. Whitman Crawford (Bill Pullman) is handsome and instantly smitten. So far so good. We ready ourselves for a love match that promises the humor of an odd couple pairing in a valentine fantasy. Abruptly, the promise implodes.

Whitman steals beer from a deli, throws a can at an old man, reveals a shadowy relationship with his rich mother (Joan Plowright), breaks his own finger to prove his love, and showers her with valentines, flowers, and the depths of his own obsession. None of it is funny.

Instead of the odd couple, we have an obsessive sociopath. Instead of the promised comedy of his and her dueling foibles, the movie spins into ugly pointlessness. When Martha tries to get out, Whitman buys an RV, staffs it with the two young children of his mother's maid, arms them with guns, and heads for Mexico and a quick wedding. While there, the film even makes a mockery of a church and a choir of young Mexican boys.

Most inexplicably of all, Whitman's other girlfriend Inga (Joan Cusack) appears, with her attentive lackey Bob (Brad Henke). She materializes first on the phone, then in person as a screaming lunatic. Joan Cusack's interpretation of this ludicrous character is surpassingly dreadful. The Inga/Bob subplot will endure as a landmark embarrassment.

The mystery of all this is threefold: Why would anyone finance this mess? Why would Bill Pullman, an actor with great range and subtlety, accept this role? And why would Ellen DeGeneres, a radiantly awkward everywoman, endanger her career with guilt by association? She plays Martha as a vulnerable clown, sets the tone beautifully, and then becomes a spectator to her own demise as the writers drown her in a bad script.

There are no redeeming features. Skip this one.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 492
Studio : Touchstone Pictures
Rating : PG-13
Running Time: 132m

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