`Love Stinks' — So does the movie
By JOEY LENISKI
Watching a new release in an empty movie theater is an ominous sign that the film is an unmitigated disaster — it says that your $6 would have been better spent watching "Star Wars: Episode One" for the seventh time this summer.
An even more dismal scenario is watching a new release in a dark theater with only a lone couple who, after deliberation, chose rather conspicuously to sit way in the back where the theater managers could not afford to put any lights.
It says that this movie appeals only to the rather pathetic couple who, desperate for variety in their relationship, rationalize that $12 is not too much to invest for an evening of sucking-face to a soundtrack filled with mindless dialogue and horrible one-liners.
The experience gained to write this review was the latter, and with every creaking armrest and slurping sound from the back of theater, movie critic hell approached faster and faster.
Now that the mood has been established, "Love Stinks."
"Love Stinks" is a story ripped straight from the script pages of an Aaron Spelling throw-away.
Seth Winnick (French Steward) waits anxiously in tux and tails to marry heavenly Chelsea (Bridgette Wilson), but best-friend Larry (Bill Bellamy) drags him into a airplane bathroom to remind him how rocky the love-boat trip has been. The rest of the movie is told in flashback narrative, complete with a Bill Bellamy voice-over, which gives the movie some semblance of a plot to follow and hopefully resolve.
The story is familiar: Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl turns psycho and dresses like the King to please boy's wildest sexual fantasy, boy finds he cannot commit to an Elvis Impersonator and so on. The movie winds around this same basic tenant several times, each revolution gaining less steam but more viable humor.
A perverse blend of comic mishap and sexual domination, "Love Stinks" fails on virtually every level. The movie is written and directed by Jeff Franklin, famed producer of TGIF fare such as "Full House" and "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper."
Unfortunately for Franklin, boob-tube triumph does not necessarily translate into celluloid success. Years of television training left its mark on the film, a point painfully obvious to the viewing audience which came expecting more.
The players never get the chance to move around or have fun in this fictional world. They remain blissfully confined in claustrophobia, framed like talking heads in painted boxes.
The characters in the film meander hopelessly through a sitcom-style plot which Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer probably would have undermined in the span of 20 minutes. That would have at least been fun to watch.
Instead we are force-fed overplayed drama, tricked into believing the genuineness of the main players, and barraged constantly with witless sarcasm and physical humor. None of it amounts to more than five minutes worth of entertainment from a "Seinfeld" episode.
Given such a hapless predicament, it would seem natural to alleviate the actors from the blame for this film tragedy. That would be kind considering the amount of damage poor acting reaps on the advertising campaign alone. Aside from their dismal and often annoying performances, the actors' names themselves fail to scream "box-office phenomenon" — a sitcom regular, a low-budget movie queen, an MTV VJ, a supermodel with little prior acting experience and a few former Playmates for eye-candy alone. They could have stirred more audience enthusiasm from a human corpse (given that the corpse was a male, of course).
And much to the disappointment of the flocking pubescent male audience, the rather "top-heavy" investments that the producers cast as the female leads neither flaunt nor feign much convincing sexuality. Most of it shakes out of Tyra Banks' loose-fitting dress-top while she shimmies during the opening wedding celebration.
"Love Stinks" begs the question: "Does love necessarily have to complement sexual fulfillment?" According to the script the answer is no, but only if the plot joins a possessive harlot with a career bachelor, neither who have any clue what actual love means. That is the extent to which this film presses your reasoning ability.
Do not go to this movie for advice on love. Go to make some seriously chapped-lips with your date in the back row for the duration. Interestingly enough, the tagline for this movie reads, "Sometimes the best sex in the world … just isn't worth it." Neither is this film.
One shamrock out of five
All Scene Stories for Thursday, September 16, 1999