The combustible possibilities surrounding a same-sex marriage involving partners of different nationalities is turned into rather tepid stuff in “I Do,” a romantic-comedy melodrama that’s too gentle by half. Writer-producer-star David W. Ross and director Glenn Gaylord set up all the pieces on the board, with Ross playing one-half of the couple as an emotionally torn Englishman in New York, but the pic’s execution is soft and formulaic, which may provide it with a comfy commercial home in gay-targeted theatrical runs and vid deals.
A handsome Brit in exile who works as a photographer’s assistant, Jack (Ross) is stuck on the outside looking in as his brother Peter (Grant Bowler) happily plans to wed his pregnant fiancee, Mya (Alicia Witt). A sudden accident that involves both brothers and leads to Peter’s death would seem to place a cloud over Jack’s head, but a quick flash forward, with Jack busy at work and Mya raising little Tara (Jessica Brown), suggests he’s moved on with his life.
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There’s even the glimpse of something promising on the b.f. front when Jack’s lesbian pal and co-worker Alison (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) takes him to a party, where he meets good-looking Spaniard Manu (Maurice Compte). But Jack’s immigration lawyer (Patricia Belcher) informs him that in order to maintain the possibility of U.S. residency or citizenship, he must move back to the U.K. and apply for residency, or else marry a U.S. citizen.
Who better than Allison, who hesitates and then jumps at the chance, knowing full well they must manage to create the illusion of wedlock for immigration officials. It’s the beginning of many problems for “I Do,” as Jack inexplicably doesn’t keep up his end of the bargain and continues behaving like a single guy with no domestic responsibilities. During the course of his indifferent behavior, which Ross never credibly sells to auds at the acting or scripting level, Jack quickly falls in love with Manu.
By its midpoint, the pic is mired in easy formula antics that all too deliberately blend comic and melodramatic elements like the right balance of carbs and protein, compelling characters to act out in such a way as to propel further and further complications. Yet these prove predictable, lending the tale a middling, rote feel that works against the sort of strong emotional currents that would elicit laughs and tears.
The message that laws on same-sex marriage are unfair is clearly delivered, through the perfs of Ross and Compte, who make their characters a bit more than symbols for a cause. But there’s a noticeable lack of chemistry between them, and even less heat: Pic could easily score a PG-13 rating and, on a good day at the MPAA screening room, a PG. Witt delivers one emotionally cathartic scene, while Sigler isn’t deployed to her full capabilities as the gal caught in between. By far the most charming onscreen presence is Mickey Cottrell as a wise and kind mentor to Jack.
Production package is boosted by a soundtrack refined by Skywalker Sound and a slick widescreen vid-lensing treatment by David Maurice Gil. Location potential of the story’s Gotham setting is underutilized.