‘Mr. Right’ is no masterpiece, but it’s certainly a hell of a lot of fun and that’s all that it really needed to be. Blindingly bright, gushingly romantic, wilfully silly, and pulse-raisingly action packed, it’s a blast of pure entertainment that’s practically impossible not to be charmed by.
Maybe it’s a bit dumb and maybe it’s a little forgetfully fluffy, but if you can somehow make it to the end of ‘Mr. Right’ without cracking a smile then there’s a chance you might not actually be human. There’s simply too much fun here. Screwball romance like the 1930s, wild neuroses like the 1970s, and slapstick gun violence like the 1990s. It’s cotton candy for cinephiles and worth the price of admission merely to stand back in awe of the chemistry of between Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick.
Rockwell stars as Francis, an almost inhumanly laid back assassin-for-hire. He likes to dance during his shootouts, frequently putting more care into his moves than his kills, but he never misses when it counts. Oh, and he’s also decided that he’s done with killing off possibly innocent folks for a quick buck. Now he pops on a clown nose and murders those who hire him to kill someone else, typically declaring, “Killing is wrong” before pulling the trigger. (Don’t think about it too hard. Not worth the effort.).
Kendrick, on the other hand, plays Martha, a wildly neurotic young woman who just can’t believe how often she’s been screwed over by men (most recently setting up a romantic rendezvous, only to see her beau wander in lip-locked to another). She’s a mess and determined to give up on love. That is, of course, until she meets Francis in a convenience store over a stack of spilled condoms. She falls for all his dumb lines and silly shenanigans, in between rounds of him killing off dudes trying to track him down (including former boss Tim Roth). Amusingly, Francis never lies about any of his murders on their dates. Martha just thinks it’s another one of his jokes, until it isn’t.
First things first, above all else ‘Mr. Right’ is worth a look purely for the joy of watching the perfectly cast Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick interact. Kendrick plays a ball wound so tightly that her only move is to burst. She’s manic to the point of being a maniac, yet somehow oddly sweet and charming. She means well even if she doesn’t behave well. Rockwell slips into a role that would make him a full-on star if there was any justice in the world. Constantly smirking and moving so smoothly that it’s almost redundant to see him engage in dances and gunplay, he’s like a living cartoon character combined with old-fashioned debonair movie star charm (or, I guess, like Michael Keaton). Together, the duo are just a joy to watch. They’re both absolutely bonkers, but bonkers in ways that feel just right for each other. Their love is essentially madness and, in a way, that feels just right – especially when the bullets start flying.
The script from Max Landis alternates from the joyously snappy/stylized to the obnoxiously snappy/stylized, though thankfully falls more towards the former. He mixes together highly stylized genres, so going over the top is practically a job requirement. Director Paco Cabezas shoots the movie like John Woo by way of Jonathan Demme. The action sequences are all beautifully balletic in a way that suits the mix of dance and gunfire and provides thrills beyond movies of ten times the budget. The rest of the film is stylized through bright colors and trash culture to create a cartoon rendition of America pushed just far enough outside of reality to contain all the insanity of the script.
Many folks out there may complain that ‘Mr. Right’ is too arch, too violent, too goofy, too loud, too silly, and just must too much. They aren’t wrong. That’s kind of the point. It’s a movie about movies that attempts to outdo the madness of them all. When the Cabezas and Landis get on a roll, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in their madness. In particular, it’s a pure joy to watch Rockwell and Kendrick deliver such powerful onscreen chemistry, whether they’re beating up bad guys or just making doe eyes at each other. The mix of action, comedy and romance feels right, and when they come together in the third act, the movie even has something poignant to say about the madness of love that fits the goofball tone rather than messing it up with mush.
‘Mr. Right’ will likely be a love-it-or-hate-it affair that splits audiences, but those who love it should make up for the haters with pure enthusiasm. If you’re just cracked enough to appreciate what’s going on here, you might not have more fun in a theater this year.