An altar-bound Tori Spelling has good reason to suspect her fiance isn’t the marrying type when his boyhood boyfriend crashes the wedding in “Kiss the Bride,” the first feature to result from Outfest’s screenwriting lab. Formulaic gay comedy delivers its share of grins on the way to an (arguably) unexpected ending, but too-broad execution will surely limit niche pic’s crossover potential. Fact that laffer hails from director C. Jay Cox (whose “Latter Days” was the highest-grossing gay-themed pic of 2004) and stars camp icon Spelling could give “Bride” a boost over similar fare in its limited theatrical run.
If told from the perspective of Spelling’s character, Alex, such a romantic comedy might have appealed to hetero auds as well, but screenwriter Ty Lieberman identifies with out-and-proud Matt (Philipp Karner) instead. Ten years after leaving his conservative Arizona hometown, the successful magazine editor has no trouble meeting men, but dumps them soon enough when they fail to measure up to his high school flame, Ryan (James O’Shea).
Matt still feels guilty about leaving his beau behind to attend Stanford U. When he receives an invitation to Ryan and Alex’s wedding, Matt drops everything and flies home to investigate whether there’s any reason the two should not be married — or, as his assistant/accomplice (Jane Cho) puts it, “You are so Julia Roberts in ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ right now.”
A breakout movie could be made from Lieberman’s premise, but Cox and his TV-caliber cast simply aren’t cut out for the challenge: It’s no easy feat to orchestrate over-the-top scenes like the one in which Matt and Alex meet (she’s blindfolded at her bachelorette party, and he’s mistaken for the stripper). With both actors underequipped for this kind of comedy, the situation is neither titillating nor funny, just squirm-inducing.
Matt is relieved to discover he and Ryan still have chemistry, though flashbacks to their “innocent” high school strip-poker games seem unintentionally laughable, since neither actor passes as an awkward teen. What Matt doesn’t expect is just how much he likes Alex, which leads to an awkwardly contrived moment when they kiss — for no reason except that the screenplay requires it. Naturally, Ryan walks in on them, sending everyone’s sexual-identity issues into a tailspin.
Too many of the movie’s designed-to-be-outrageous moments leave auds downright uncomfortable. That’s not to say the sitcom-styled script doesn’t inspire its share of hoots and chuckles along the way. Nearly every sentence is designed to be a zinger, with Lieberman’s punchlines scoring biggest when delivered by the supporting cast, particularly Alex’s always-soused mother (Joanna Cassidy) and Ryan’s macho best men (Michael Medico and “Latter Days” alumnus Steve Sandvoss).
Shooting on crisp DV disguises some of the pic’s low-budget limitations, though framing and focus are frequently clumsy. Stronger tech work and a tighter edit would’ve enhanced many of the movie’s laughs.