Lifetime Review: 'The Wrong Mr. Right'
Another dull and frustrating chapter of the "Wrong" series where Krista Allen plays a lovestruck dummy.
Having moved back home to work and save money for grad school, Jessica Johnson (Anna Marie Dobbins) still can't get over the surprise she got with her homecoming. Not only does her divorced mother Tracy (Krista Allen) have a new boyfriend, but she's invited him to move in only six months into their relationship. And while Paul (Rib Hillis) has completely swept Tracy off her feet, Jessica makes no secret of her distrust of the new man in her mother's life.
So when she begins to suspect that Paul might not be who he says he is, Jessica works with her boyfriend Rick (Olivier Paris) to uncover the truth. But with Paul always having an explanation to counteract Jessica's suspicions, her efforts to open Tracy's eyes prove fruitless. Can Jessica uncover the truth about her mother's "Mr. Right" before Tracy's whirlwind romance turns into a horror story?
Wow, the Wrong saga has been a rollercoaster of quality for me. The Wrong Real Estate Agent took me to the bottom of a hill, and then the flawed-but-enjoyable The Wrong Fiancé came along to take me back up one. Now, we're back to the bottom with The Wrong Mr. Right. Funny title aside, this movie has far too much in common with fellow DeCoteau-directed debacle The Wrong Stepfather for its own good. Both follow the same basic storyline of a young woman being suspicious of her mother's new boyfriend, with Krista Allen as the main heroine's naïvely swooning mother. In fact, The Wrong Mr. Right ends up repeating many of its predecessor's mistakes while adding a few of its own.
Since it's the error I alluded to in the subtitle for this review, I might as well start there: Tracy Johnson is every bit as dumb as The Wrong Stepfather's Karen Woodley. While she may have waited six months before inviting her new boyfriend to move in (a step up from Karen deciding to marry hers after knowing him for a few weeks), it doesn't make her behavior regarding Paul any less irritating. With Jessica finding incriminating evidence against Paul not even 20 minutes into the movie, it makes it all the more frustrating to watch Tracy ignore all the red flags Jessica uncovers and scold her daughter for not immediately welcoming her boyfriend with open arms.
Tracy does have a scene of apologizing to Jessica for not asking her about Paul moving in, and Krista Allen gives a great emotive performance later on as Tracy begs for her daughter's support while questioning why Jessica has seemingly let her unfaithful father off the hook for abandoning them like he did. But elsewhere, Tracy is just as infuriatingly dense and rage-inducingly snide as her previous "Wrong" character. Her worst scenes would have to be when she's legit squealing over Paul like a 15-year-old girl does over her first crush and when she snaps at her "best friend" Sandra (Vivica A. Fox's requisite role) that's far less justified than what she directs at Jessica. Ironically, the latter leads to my favorite scene of the movie, with Sandra thoroughly chewing Tracy out for her rude remarks and for essentially ghosting her once she started seeing Paul.
(Dear Lifetime: would you be so kind as to stop this trend of casting Krista Allen as the Lovestruck Idiot Mom? After her Wrong movies and I Almost Married a Serial Killer, I'd love to see Allen in a Lifetime role where I'm not kind of rooting for her character to get brutally murdered by her crazy boyfriend)
But on the flip side, it's not like Jessica is all that pleasant a protagonist either. While comparatively more likable than Tracy due to her seeing through Paul's deceptions, Jessica has plenty of annoying moments of her own. She makes a terrible first impression by blaming her mother for her deadbeat father cheating on Tracy before walking out on her, and Anna Marie Dobbins consistently plays Jessica with a flippant and whiny attitude. Dobbins and Allen share a few softer moments that convey a loving mother-daughter relationship and where Dobbins accurately depicts Jessica's daughterly concern. But outside of those scenes, she plays Jessica as more annoyed by her mother's blind trust in Paul than worried. It's enough to make it as hard to sympathize with Jessica as it is to sympathize with Tracy. Not helping are the times when Jessica is forced to act uncharacteristically stupid for the plot to happen, with the most blatant being when SPOILER ALERT she doesn't think to show Tracy the pictures Paul has on his laptop of him with numerous other women. Even accounting for Tracy's pinball-sized brain, I doubt Paul could've come up with a plausible excuse for that. Spoilers Over
There's also a few other annoying plot holes and character decisions to delve into. In addition to the Spoiler-marked one above, there's also how SPOILER ALERT Paul is somehow able to kill John in a public bathroom and dispose of the body without anyone seeing him and how he later lures Hal to his death. I couldn't facepalm hard enough when Hal (a "professional" private investigator) freely told Paul the information he'd dug up about him and told Jessica about. I just about knocked my brain loose when Paul subsequently used Jessica being an "underage girl" to lure Hal into meeting him at a bar to "talk things out". Did the writers somehow forget that they'd established Jessica as a college grad? And I'm not even sure why Paul asked Hal to meet him at a bar if he was just gonna break into Hal's office to kill him. Then there's the matter of the ending, which is the latest in the Wrong saga's collection of unbelievable Karma Houdini finales. I could almost buy Paul pulling off an escape with a bullet in his leg, but how exactly was he able to do so without anyone in the room noticing until he was gone? Spoilers Over
The rest of the movie's players tries their best, with Vivica A. Fox being the most memorable of the supporting cast. In addition to Fox being responsible for my favorite scene of the film, she gets to show up for the climax and make Sandra as much of a badass as The Wrong Fiancé's Charlotte was. Eric Roberts similarly makes the most of his limited role, despite Hal's aforementioned-in-Spoiler-territory lapse in judgment. Rib Hillis can at least say he did better than Corin Nemec did in The Wrong Stepfather at playing a crazy and conniving boyfriend. Namely, Hillis does a better job at covering up Paul's true colors with a sweet smile and "open book" demeanor. It's still a far cry from his stronger villain performance in 2017's The Wrong Man, and there are moments when Paul gets hit with a bout of Crazy Eyes Syndrome at times when he's supposed to be charming. But overall, Paul definitely puts Craig Green to shame.
Olivier Paris is endearing in his first prominent Wrong role (previously playing minor characters in The Wrong Teacher and The Wrong Tutor). While Jessica's boyfriend Rick is initially very dismissive of her concerns, he redeems himself by becoming a consistent ally for Jessica by the second act. And while their pseudo-subplot together feels pretty random, Paris and Steve Richard Harris play well off each other during Rick and Marc's surprisingly heartwarming father-son bonding scenes. Lastly, Jason Faunt is entertainingly histrionic as Paul's dopey accomplice John, even as the script gives him a healthy dose of awkward dialogue to work through.
In addition to replicating its sister movie's dialogue issues, The Wrong Mr. Right has the same struggles with pace as The Wrong Stepfather. It's basically a long waiting game until Tracy finally stops being a gullible moron, which is about as fun to watch as it sounds. Even more egregious is the impromptu basketball game that breaks out in the second act, which seems to serve no purpose other than maybe trying to use gratuitous sex appeal to keep viewers from changing the channel. Compared to its similarly-plotted Wrong counterpart, The Wrong Mr. Right might have better performances when it comes to its antagonist and supporting characters. But otherwise, the film falls a little bit lower than The Wrong Stepfather thanks to its pair of unsympathetic protagonists and even more plot-hole-ravaged script. If it's any consolation, The Wrong Mr. Right can still say it avoided replacing The Wrong Real Estate Agent as my current lowest ranked Wrong movie--if only by half a point.
Score: 2.5 out of 10 PI godfathers.