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Does a dumb-ass rom-com increase in value when a former Doctor Who show up as leading man...?
IFC / 89 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: June 26, 2012
Lifetime-esque movies don't need to be realistic or narratively sturdy to work as emotional releases, but one needs to be able to find an in-point if the ride's going to be worth the investment. Dumb-ass movies with Shannon Elizabeth as a lovelorn wedding planner or Dean Cain as a hunky firefighter with a heart of gold can legitimately work like gangbusters as long as viewers are able to buy into their conceits - even just a little.
But The Decoy Bride - even with a cast that is a distinct step up from most TV rom-com fare - never sets its hook. One feels for Katie (Kelly MacDonald) in her heartbreak, and the nerdy charms of James (David Tennant) are geekily irresistible, but the whole affair at the center of this misguided comedy of errors is flimsy at best - it's simply no fun.
In The Decoy Bride, our anchor is Katie, a woman who has been devastated by a bad relationship elsewhere who has come to the island of Hegg to tend to her ailing mother. On said island, the biggest female movie star in the world (Alice Eve) is planning an under-the-radar marriage to her beau (Tennant), but in an attempt to keep a veil of secrecy over the whole thing, they need someone to plant as a decoy in preparation for the big day (does the title make sense now?).
The Decoy Bride isn't an odious movie - if you spend more than ten minutes with it, you'll need to see how it ends (for better and for worse) - but it's not all that defendable, either. Are there moments where you throw your rom-com censor to the side and have an earnest response to the romantic mania at hand? Sure. But does the movie hold water as a start-to-finish underdog tale? Not so much.