Holy Matrimony (1994) / Comedy

MPAA Rated: PG for some adult humor, some violence,  and language
Running Time: 93 min.

Cast: Patricia Arquette, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Tate Donovan, John Schuck 
Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay: David Weisberg, Douglas S. Cook
Review published November 26, 2003

It's a fortunate thing for the producers of Holy Matrimony that I was not involved in the decision making process in regard to the title, as Holy Crap would have been much more fitting.  Leonard "Spock" Nimoy directs, and given that he has directed with success in the past (Star Trek III and IV, Three Men and a Baby), there's reason to expect more than the paltry goods turned in.  Fittingly, this would be his last attempt at feature filmmaking.  I'd like to think his directorial license had been revoked, and if there isn't such a thing, they should create it in his case just to do so.

Arquette (True Romance, Flirting with Disaster) stars as Havana, who, along with her boyfriend Peter (Donovan, Love Potion No. 9), rip off a country fair for a large sum of money, and hightail it to Canada, where they hide out in Peter's former home, a Hutterite commune.  Being that it's a devoutly religious community, Peter and Havana get hitched in order to remain there until the heat dies down.  Peter also stashes the loot so the rest of the nosy elders don't sniff it out.  Tragedy strikes when a car accident takes Peter's life, leaving Havana with two choices: she must marry Peter's 12-year-old brother Ezekiel (Gordon-Levitt, 10 Things I Hate About You), according to the customs of the religion, or she must leave.  Marrying the young lad seems a small sacrifice to pay to have a chance to find where Peter stashed the money, so she consents, but the pressure to conform to the ways of the village is making her rethink her decision.

Granted, there is no way a script this silly could have ever been made into a good film, no matter who the director is.  However, the way Nimoy directs it, it is made far worse than it has any reason to be.  The reason?  Although it is clearly a comedy, the premise and motivations are so hard to swallow, that only an out-and-out broad comedy would have suited it.  Nimoy makes the fatal mistake of shooting many scenes as if it were a drama, and even a few where it tries to go for deeper emotion, turning a dumb comedy into a wretchedly artificial try to go for something more meaningful.

The final third of the film turns into a very bad chase flick, with a rogue FBI agent out to nab the pair to steal the money for himself.  By this point, if you even decide to stick around this far, there's little to care about anymore.  Holy Matrimony is a contrived, sophomoric mess, with hardly a laugh to be found anywhere.   Raise your hand if you hear anyone ask for an objection why this couple, or anyone else interested in watching it, should join in Holy Matrimony.

Qwipster's rating

©2003 Vince Leo