With a cheesy title and a completely mock-worthy tagline – “They just might make a killer couple” – Mr. Right is just begging to be ridiculed. At first glance one could easily mistake the film as standard, schmaltzy rom-com fare, except Mr. Right is much more akin to a screwball comedy that delights in tossing off glib one-liners.
Action romantic comedies, more specifically, hitman romantic comedies aren’t a particularly lucrative sub-genre when viewers consider past dismal offerings like The Killers (2010) or Knight and Day (2010). Mr. Right doesn’t try to break the mould, but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously, which works in the film’s favour. There is very little plot happening here; in fact, the film is boiled down to only a small handful of sequences, with Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell cramming the short eighty-nine minutes with their flippant remarks and witty banter.
Martha (Kendrick) is naturally unlucky in love and it’s during a casual trip to the convenience store, after her most recent breakup, that she has a slow motion meet-cute with Francis (Rockwell), a wanted hitman. Both fast-talking oddballs with a tenuous grasp on reality, the two declare their love for one another almost instantly, despite the fact that Francis is a contract killer that prefers to murder those that hire him ““ his version of a moral compass. Mr. Right makes a point of highlighting the pair’s ‘unique’ quirks, namely Martha’s dinosaur obsession and Francis’ choice to wear a red nose when he kills people. At times it’s unclear if the film is satirising romantic comedies or trying too hard to be offbeat, a fine line the script clumsily straddles.
Mr. Right doesn’t bother to contrive a convoluted or even interesting meeting between its two leads when the genre dictates that such a meeting is inevitable anyway. It only takes a brief exchange for Francis to convince Martha to spend the day with him. Although it has been done to death on the big and small screen, there is still something oddly whimsical about spontaneous, day-long dates with strangers. Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell bounce off one another with near perfect synchronicity that such a trope is easy to forgive. There also isn’t a much better image than seeing Kendrick and Rockwell in ‘Bitch #1’ and ‘Bitch #2’ t-shirts while getting hammered in New Orleans.
Despite a few bullets exchanged between Francis, Martha, some truly lousy mobsters and a corrupt FBI Agent (Tim Roth), the film’s main source of conflict is flimsy, keeping the stakes low and making it difficult to invest in such flighty characters. Nevertheless, the easy chemistry between Rockwell and Kendrick is surprisingly appealing even during Mr. Right‘s most farcical scenes.
THE REEL SCORE: 5/10