Now that they have “Venus on the Halfshell” out of their systems, filmmakers Niels and Tess Nielsen — he directs, she writes, both produce — might consider reworking their potentially intriguing premise into an emotionally edgy drama or an exuberantly black comedy. Unfortunately, their current collaboration is a tonally inconsistent, aggressively overplayed botch, infused with the sort of desperately cutesy silliness endemic to small-budget indies that pad programs at second-tier fests.
Monica Serene Garnich (of MTV’s “Undressed”) struggles valiantly in lead role of Jackie Zelinski, a comely forest ranger who falls for hunky artist Hendrix O’Hara (Jonathan Aube) after rescuing him from a motorcycle mishap. Hendrix waits until after they’re married to tell Jackie about his budding-delinquent son (Sean Stavropoulos), spoiled-brat daughter (Hannah Thurston) and borderline-psycho ex-wife (Jennifer Gareis). Hendrix gets custody of his kids, Jackie is visited by her ne’er-do-well father (Miguel Perez) — and the extended family plummets to the level of trailer-park trash. Nielsens use Alan Derian’s whimsical music to indicate pic’s humorous intent, but some scenes — including one involving a gun-wielding speed freak — seem jarringly out of place, and would be more appropriate in serious drama about domestic violence.