I’ve eaten my way through a full breakfast trying to figure out something positive to say about Merry Matrimony, a film that’s weighed down by two dull leads. All I can come up with is the brief scene featuring Jessica Lowndes showing off her George Bailey “lasso the moon” impression. It’s the best bit of acting she’s done to date, and I wonder if she’d be better deployed in roles with more physical comedy. Up to now, she’s stuck to blandly sweet parts and characters lacking in personality, a criticism that applies to this film as well.
Lowndes plays Brie, an artistic director at an advertising firm. When a bridal magazine makes last minute request for a Christmas spread reshoot, she’s forced to accept despite a short three week window to complete the project. She’s more bothered, however, by the fact that she’ll be working alongside her college boyfriend, now a famous photographer. Eddie (Christopher Russell), had pledged his love to her years ago, but that was before he went off to some internship in Paris and never came back. Nevertheless, Brie is determined to put aside their unresolved issues in order to finish the job and gain a promotion.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen former lovers trying to navigate changed circumstances in the hopes there might still be room for a relationship. There are plenty of challenges for the two characters to confront, whether as work partners or a romantic couple or even as friends. The film takes the least interesting route though and opts for conversation over action. They deal with a problem here and there regarding their shoot, but the dramatic high point is a scene in which they pretend to be an engaged couple so that they can sneak into a bakery. It’s a sequence that’s over in a flash with a couple jokes and some cake shoved in each others’ faces. Otherwise, things are largely smooth sailing until the third act when Eddie’s closeness with the magazine editor prompts Brie to rethink their relationship once more.
I’m not sure better actors could have saved the film, but they probably could have livened up this snoozefest. While Lowndes and Russell put in some effort, their whole manner leaves me bored by their characters’ romance. I suppose I want the couple to get back together, but I’m also not particularly bothered if they don’t. Instead, I found my mind wandering off towards the secondary characters like Jared (David Reale), Brie’s childhood friend who eagerly pursues her with a pot of poinsettias. He had me wishing that the third wheel in these movies would be at least as much of a catch as the main guy. Perhaps if Eddie had to put in some actual work to win back Brie’s affections, then this would have been worth watching.
Dir: John Bradshaw
Writer: Rickie Castaneda
Cast: Jessica Lowndes, Christopher Russell, Jennifer Gibson, Farrah Aviva, Louise Pitre, David Reale
Time: 90 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel