Love Stinks (1999) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: R for language, crude humor and sexual content
Running Time: 94 min.

Cast: French Stewart, Bridgette Wilson, Bill Bellamy, Tyra Banks, Steve Hytner, Jason Bateman, Tiffani Amber-Thiessen, Ivana Milevich (Ivana Milicevic)
Director: Jeff Franklin
Screenplay: Jeff Franklin



If it’s true that love stinks, then the makers of this film only needed to entitle this Love.  The ineptitude of this motion picture is astonishing, never able to escape the sitcom situations to make this something you couldn’t see on a network almost any night of the week.  In fact, you can see this on video as well, only much better, in the Danny De Vito directed, The War of the Roses, which features actors with real talent and a screenplay that actually took chances.  This one only manages to annoy, finding that sensitive spot in your mind that causes you discomfort, and wantonly rubbing it with increasing irritation, until you’re on your knees in front of your television begging for the sweet mercy of the closing credits. 

French Stewart (of NBC’s “3rd
Rock from the Sun”) stars as Seth Winnick, a television producer who has yet to tie the knot who gets involved with the gorgeous interior designer, Chelsea (Bridgette Wilson, The Wedding Planner), whose driving force behind her every thought is to get married, and Seth is the only object of her desire.  It starts off as innocent flirtation, ending up with Chelsea doing a complete makeover of Seth’s home and wardrobe, until he is every bit the metrosexual man she has always dreamed of.  Seth thinks things are going too fast, but Chelsea pushes things as far as they can go, exerting even legal pressure to corner him into submitting.  The war of the sexes then begins.

The first and most obvious reason why Love Stinks doesn’t work comes from the casting of French Stewart as the romantic lead.  French’s shtick is strictly to get laughs at his inane behavior, which might be fine for a jovial sidekick, but as the man every woman can only dream about, the suit just doesn’t fit, no matter how many times his would-be wife changes it.  Would you believe a babe like Bridgette Wilson is single and without any interesting prospects save for a freakishly quirky comedian?  I don’t either.

The complete lack of chemistry is evident, so we’re forced to endure the machinations of the farfetched and judicially questionable plot.  The sitcom antics make a great deal of sense once you realize that writer-director Jeff Franklin cut his teeth in television writing teleplays for many comedy shows, and was the man responsible for the popular series, “Full House”.  Franklin must know that his characters have no appeal as written, so he shows as much cheesecake as possible in the form of short skirts and low-cut tops.  Not that I’m complaining here, as the gratuitous cleavage did keep me from falling asleep, but with every woman looking like a model while almost every man is a middle aged comic, it only shows that Franklin must have a lot of time on his hands in the television business to concoct plenty of similar fantasies.

Things sink to new lows when tired flatulence, forced colonic irrigation, and gay jokes are trotted out for laughs, throwing all semblance of respectability out the window, as the desperation overtakes the final half hour of this painfully unfunny comedy.  The only thing that could have made it worse is a fat Elvis impersonator marrying the couple -- oh wait!  Love Stinks is unlikable and unfunny, and for a romantic comedy, that’s the death knell.  Watch War of the Roses instead.

©2004 Vince Leo