It could be said that director Jeremiah Chechik (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Benny and Joon) has been in director’s jail since 1998’s The Avengers. He didn’t have another credit for six years after that generally disliked remake and then, when he did re-emerge, worked almost exclusively on episodic TV. Although, it could also be said he instead found a niche in episodic TV, where he’s been killing it, landing regular directing gigs like Chuck, Burn Notice, Being Human and Gossip Girl, among several others for the last decade. Whichever it may be, his first theatrical film since Steed and Mrs. Peel is the very enjoyable romantic comedy The Right Kind of Wrong.
It’s a smartly-written film populated with several fun and interesting characters that centers on Leo Palamino (Ryan Kwanten), a failed novelist turned dishwasher turned national butt of the jokes of his ex-wife’s popular blog and later bestselling book, Why You Suck, which paints him in an unflattering light. Residents and tourists in his small Washington town talk about him in hushed tones and snicker at him when he goes by. He’s learned to largely let roll off of his back, even as his wife is booking talk shows and becoming more and more successful, while his own novel sits in stacks unread. Still, he has a small circle of friends that make it bearable, including his boss, Mandeep (Raoul Bhaneja) a widower and restaurant owner, Mandeep’s cute but annoying rugrats, Ravi and Pia, and Leo’s publisher, Neil (Will Sasso), and his wife, Jill (Jennifer Baxter) who paints and likes to hang glide and send out tweets as Neil’s junk.
Leo generally keeps a low profile around town, that is until he meets the girl of his dreams, Colette (Sara Canning), and then he does anything but. The only problem is that he first sees her on the day of her wedding. After crashing the reception and making an overture of his affection to her, he’s lucky her husband, Danny (Ryan McPartlin) doesn’t wipe the floor with him, even after he discovers that it was Leo whom he once chased after keying his Hummer because Leo is of the opinion that only dicks drive Hummers. Leo has an ally in Colette’s mother (Catherine O’Hara), who likewise thinks Colette rushed into her marriage with Danny. From there, it’s equal parts Leo trying to woo Colette out of her mistake of a marriage, while trying to live down and come to terms with his ex-wife’s success at his expense.
Even if you don’t generally do rom-coms (and I don’t), there’s a lot to like here. Chechik gets some genuine performances, especially out of Kwanten, who’s equal parts slacker, hopeless romantic, rebel and victim. He’s brash in pursuit of Colette, yet put-upon as the subject of the book, whispered about all over town. Will Sasso is fun as Leo’s running buddy and publisher, who’s into his wife’s junk tweets and her unusual art about same. Sara Canning is lovely and a tough, unusual nut to crack for Leo. Raoul Bhaneja’s Mandeep and his two too-cute-for their own good kids (Mateen Devji, Maya Samy) add lightness to the proceedings as well. Ryan McPartlin, who worked with Chechik on some episodes of Chuck, is essentially channeling Captain Awesome here again, with just a few tweaks. His Danny is a handsome, rich, successful, accomplished douche (Olympian, kids camp founder) but an atypical one at least. He’s loving to Colette and thoughtful of her, so there’s no outward reason for her to consider Leo over him, which is a nice departure from the norm in these types of movies.
Chechik and cast have put together a very affable film here, set against some ridiculously beautiful Washington vistas. It’s well-made and well-acted and would actually be a nice way to kill a couple of hours this Valentine’s Day. The Right Kind of Wrong is from Magnolia pictures and is available now on iTunes and VOD. It premieres in theatres on March 14.