The Seven Year Hitch revolves around a surprise marriage between two best friends, so maybe it’s fitting that I was also a little surprised by this movie. Though it boasts a daffy premise and some dated make-up and fashion choices, it’s not half bad and is helped by strong performances. The actors overcome the inherent silliness of the story, and Darin Brooks in particular convinces as the lazier, more carefree half of the pair.
Jennifer (Natalie Hall) and Kevin (Brooks) have been inseparable since he rescued her slinky from the neighborhood bully years ago. In the subsequent decades, however, their paths have diverged even as they remain together. She graduated from college, found a respectable job, and even bought a house, which is how you know this is fiction, while he’s been riding her coattails and having a grand old time of it. Kevin supports his best friend forever by always being around but never finishing or accomplishing anything. He thinks nothing of the fact that he lives rent-free under Jennifer’s roof and spends his substantial down time creating history-themed board games. Jennifer’s engagement to Bryce (Ryan Doom) threatens their happy union though, and unless Kevin can find a way to stop this wedding, he’s going to lose his home, his livelihood, and his best friend.
The easiest solution would be to expose Bryce as the womanizing bastard is, but the messier, more creative solution would be to claim common law marriage due to their seven years of living together. Kevin’s brother (John Sloan) offhandedly mentions that Jennifer and Kevin are practically husband and wife anyway, so the latter runs with the idea, hoping that there’s something to this quirk of the law. When Jennifer realizes that they indeed fulfill the narrow criteria for common law marriage – damn her attempt to get the cheaper couples cruise package and the ugly handmade ring she’s been wearing for years – she hits back with a plan of her own. Knowing that Kevin’s sure to give up on anything that requires more than a day’s effort, she sets out to house-husband him into exhaustion. She sticks him with everything from renewing the dishwasher warranty to babysitting duties in order to force his hand.
The face-off changes their relationship for better and for worse, but most of all, it lays bare the commitment each has to the other. Sure, there are other ways of coming to these truths, which is why there are also other Hallmark movies, but I like the unconventional plot. I concede that much of it is ridiculous, and it underplays the fact that Kevin’s a selfish leech and Jennifer a foolish enabler. It also wastes an appearance by George Wendt as their neighbor. Brooks’s performance wins me over though and not just because he’s a loveable loaf to Doom’s smug, insufferable Bryce. Kevin earns my affection through his self-awareness, rising to the occasion in practical and emotional terms. Like Bryce, I initially thought he needed a kick in the pants, but I can see why Jennifer likes him so much. Hall has less occasion to impress. She stays within the parameters of her character, and as a somewhat exasperated romantic lead, Jennifer is more effective at highlighting Kevin’s qualities.
Dir: Bradford May
Writer: Brian Sawyer
Cast: Natalie Hall, Darin Brooks, Frances Fisher, George Wendt, Ryan Doom, John Sloan, Katy Stoll
Time: 88 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movie Channel