Ellen has found a movie vehicle that’s sui DeGeneres in Mr. Wrong. The saga of how the perfect mate evolves into the date from hell has an underlying darkness that may surprise and put off some of the actress’ TV fans. But the hip, smart yarn has a bite not seen in American movies since The War of the Roses.
Martha Alston (DeGeneres), the thirtysomething producer of a morning chatshow, is the victim of parental pressure. Mom and Dad have been unsubtly effective at getting the message across that it’s time for Martha to settle down with a nice guy.
One evening in a local bar ‘he’ steps up to the jukebox and plays ‘her’ song – ‘I’m So Lonely I Could Cry.’ Whitman Crawford (Bill Pullman) looks like Gary Cooper and acts like a dreamboat. Martha cannot believe her luck.
Still, it doesn’t take long for the cracks in the plaster to emerge. Whit’s idea of fun is shoplifting – and, to prove his love, he’d literally snap off a finger. For Martha, the final straw is when she’s taken to meet Mrs Crawford (Joan Plowright), who grants her approval, based on criteria more commonly applied to horse breeding.
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Pullman effects just the right balance of charm and dimwittedness. DeGeneres’ comic timing and dramatic instincts fill the bigscreen in a way not apparent from her television work. Only Joan Cusack, as Whit’s jealous ex-girlfriend, seems out of step in a role that’s too loud and overstated for the general tenor of the piece.