MOVIE REVIEW: “In-Lawfully Yours” stars Chelsey Crisp (Fresh Off the Boat [TV series], New Girl [TV series]), Philip Boyd (The Haves and Havenots [TV series], Saving Grace [TV series]), Marilu Henner (Taxi [TV series], Evening Shade [TV series]), Joe Williamson (Grey’s Anatomy [TV series], Looking [TV series]), Erin Muroski (Burning Love [TV series], Henry Danger [TV series]), Kate Sanford (A Year and Change, Beautifully Departed), and Corbin Bernsen (Psych [TV series], L.A. Law [TV series]). It is directed by Robert Kirbyson (Snowmen, Red Line), who also wrote it with Sean Gaffney (Superbook [TV series], My Babysitter Is an Alien [TV movie]). After a brutal turn of events involving her divorce and the passing of her step-father, Jesse (Crisp) stays behind in her ex’s hometown to help her step-mother grieve, as well as move her out of her house. Little does she know how great this small town is, especially the local pastor who helps her step-mom out.
Well, this is a rarity: a romantic comedy review. Looking at what type of reviews I churn out of this site, you’ll notice how I steer clear of rom-coms, as well as horror. Why analyze one now? Good question. It turns out that this movie was actually created by my college, Regent University, being their first feature film. If that wasn’t cool enough, the university held a red carpet event open to any student who purchased a ticket, which were free. With this being a free event, complete with actors and a Q&A afterwards, it would be crazy not to attend, no matter what genre the release is. So, I bought a suit (it was a formal gathering), and headed down to the communications building, marking a huge moment in my life. I can’t begin to explain how thrilled I was to attend this. Standing at my first red carpet, witnessing actors walk down it, including the one and only Corbin Bernsen, was a dream come true. It was a magical night, to say the least, but that isn’t why you are here; you wanna know how good this movie actually is. While the event was exciting and wonderful to be a part of, I couldn’t say the same about the film I watched. You all can tell by my first sentences how I don’t typically like rom-coms. They all follow the same line in terms of story and finish out in a similar fashion. Guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after; all of that jazz. I’m not in the target audience for these flicks, but I was willing to give this one a chance, especially since it was the first movie made by my school. To be honest, this film wasn’t the worst that I have seen. I wasn’t clamoring to leave the auditorium it screened at nor was I checking the time. I was actually entertained, for the most part, and kept to myself the entire ride. There are few romantic comedies that are funny in this world (a great one being “ Days of Summer”), and “In-Lawfully Yours” is shockingly one of them. Sure, it didn’t give me belly laughs, and I wasn’t cracking up every minute, however, there were some well-timed moments that made me chuckle, giving me a feature I could bear and not struggle to finish. I could see that there was heart poured into this movie, no matter how cheesy or cliché, and some of the writing was smart. The acting was good, with Chelsey Crisp shining in her role, and Philip Boyd playing a good enough “villain.” The cinematography was done well, although the shots and score were generic, and the location was nice to see. The issue that rips into this film though, like most romantic comedies, is the plot. It doesn’t have every cliché in the rom-com handbook, as it does loosely follow the biblical story of Ruth, but it hits the familiar beats, like how it was predictable and there were a handful of moments that made me roll my eyes (not as bad as most romantic comedies though). The structure, however, is the main concern. This release struggles to find balance in romance and comedy. While I enjoy the heavy use of comedy, which is actually more risqué than I would’ve thought, it doesn’t blend well into its romance, leaving flow issues. Everyone is either comical or an idiot, so any heart-to-heart moment may fall flatter than they would in a drama. There were some deep moments, mind you, but they were too little and far apart to make this film hold together. On top of that, it is extremely fast-paced. There are a few time jumps in this movie, and they throw you right in at the beginning, causing a non-stop experience that won’t take any time to stop and smell the roses. It was off-putting at times, and by the end I couldn’t marinate in what I just saw. Everything happened so fast! Besides that, the overall theme of this movie is hard to comprehend. Coming out of a Christian university, this film felt more secular than religious. The writer in the Q&A stated that he did this to draw in more people on that side to Christianity, which I understand, but it didn’t help me in learning from it. I’m just watching a pastor hook up with a woman who doesn’t know who Noah is, while they try to make a joke out of it. It’s a lot of fluff with little weight to make this an impactful religious film, and I was bummed out at the attempt, being that it’s Regent’s first. It’s definitely better than what it’s trailer promotes, but not by much. It may have its comedy, but I’d rather leave the theater thinking about how deep it is than laughing at a door-slam joke. Not when the writer says he is trying to make a religious film. I could go further into how illogical most scenes are (like the whole arc with the café manager), but it would be worthless considering as to how I have made my point. Overall, this was a mediocre romantic comedy feature that, while actually funny at times, didn’t hold the weight it was trying to bring to the table, especially from a religious standpoint. I can see its target audience loving it more than me, but if you hold my views about rom-coms, I’d skip out on this one. FINAL SCORE: 69%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: