Can somebody check on Max Landis? Dude hasn’t had the best of luck lately. The writer’s last two films — American Ultra and Victor Frankenstein — were both critical and box-office bombs, and his latest, Mr. Right, doesn’t exactly appear primed for greatness, either.
The “hitman comedy,” which follows Anna Kendrick’s “full-on manic” Martha as she falls for professional human-killer Francis (Sam Rockwell), drew mixed reviews after premiering at last year’s TIFF. The Guardian, which dismissed the film’s premise as “derivative,” called the leads’ chemistry “uneasy,” thanks to their 16-year age difference, and referred to the writing as “deep-fried cheese served in giant, clagging portions.” Indiewire essentially hated it as well, writing, “Thanks to deplorable direction by Paco Cabezas, and a childishly broad screenplay by Max Landis, Mr. Right ends up all wrong.” Variety was a bit kinder: “Despite wildly uneven sound mixing, with its bright colors, buoyant pop tunes and lickety-split pacing, the whole experience is almost suffocatingly fun, especially for those who believe Kendrick and Rockwell would make a killer couple.”
Mr. Right‘s first trailer doesn’t inspire much optimism, either. That whole clagging-portions-of-cheese thing is evident right off the bat. Kendrick refers to herself as “Suckball McGee.” Rockwell, his hands full of condoms, remarks, “That’s a lot of condoms.” Kendrick, when she finds out what Rockwell does for a living: “You’re like, the greatest. And then you kill people.” It doesn’t help that the music is trying desperately to telegraph the fact that these lines are meant to be jokes.
What does bode well, though, is Landis’ creative twist on the standard “hot-mess-of-a-girl falls for irresistible coldblooded assassin” narrative: Rockwell isn’t your run-of-the-mill hitman. He’s a hitman with a moral code, one that implores him to kill the people who hire him versus their intended targets. That’s something, right? And though they’re 16 years apart, because Hollywood, Kendrick and Rockwell do seem to have something of a strangely intriguing rapport. I don’t want to think about them having sex, but like, I’ll watch them engage in witty repartee. Plus, Tim Roth is here, which means everything just might be all right after all.
Mr. Right will debut in select theaters and on VOD April 8.