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Opinion

Maudie over Missy

Maud ends up as a live-in housekeeper (and later, the wife) of a poor and grumpy fish peddler, Everett (Ethan Hawke), in a tiny square house in the middle of nowhere.

Stephanie Mayo

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On Netflix right now, two female actors contort their bodies for their respective roles in two radically different films: a knobbly Sally Hawkins in the 2017 biographical drama Maudie, and a malleable Lauren Lapkus in the 2020 comedy The Wrong Missy.

‘Maudie’
Academy Award-nominee Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) plays Maudie Lewis, or Maud for short, the famous Canadian folk artist who lived a life of illness and poverty.

Based on a true story, the film begins when Maud is in her early 30s, crooked and limping from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, as she abandons her greedy brother and hostile aunt to find happiness and independence.

Maud ends up as a live-in housekeeper (and later, the wife) of a poor and grumpy fish peddler, Everett (Ethan Hawke), in a tiny square house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by harsh and beautiful nature, in a small coastal town in Nova Scotia.

Irish director Aisling Walsh and screenwriter Sherry White render the drama light, jaunty, and mildly humorous — but chronicles Maud’s life only to a superficial degree. The filmmakers refuse to dive into the artist’s inner life; instead, they choose to capture the fairytale-like world of Maud and Everett, two simple-minded and childlike individuals who suddenly find themselves paired up.

Maudie grabs your full attention until the end chiefly because of Hawkins’ remarkable performance as a person with disability and whose creativity thrives in a somewhat oppressive environment. While Hawkins is enchanting all throughout — her physical performance perfectly nuanced — her lack of character development prevents us from experiencing the thrill of her creative expression and that uncontainable talent that endlessly flows through her gnarled fingers.

As we follow Maud paint her brightly colored naturescapes in every available surface in their Lilliputian home, fearless in her brushstrokes, you find yourself more interested in the art rather than the artist. You find yourself more excited about how Everett’s house would look like after Maud’s makeover than how her art brings joy to her difficult life. Even her rise to fame is unfelt.

Despite its lack of depth, Maudie still rises above most of Netflix’s latest offerings. The film’s power lies in its breathtaking painterly visuals, Hawkins’ brilliant performance, and this picture of a fascinating couple and their strange and serendipitous love story. With all the bad movies out there, Maudie is already considered a work of art.

3 out of 5 stars

photograph courtesy of Happy Madison
Lots of slapstick comedy in the film The Wrong Missy.

‘The Wrong Missy’
Anything from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company is guaranteed to inflict the viewer mental pain. Apparently, its brand of horrific comedy has its own cult following, hence it keeps producing a string of hard-to-watch popcorn comedies. And, surprisingly, we still attempt to watch them as soon as they drop on Netflix.

Maybe because we desperately need humor? Or we morbidly hold on to some hope that we will miraculously enjoy ourselves?

The newest Happy Madison fare to come to our living rooms is The Wrong Missy, which assaults you about 10 minutes into the film. If it weren’t for this agreement between me and some of my reviewer friends to finish it and discuss it, I wouldn’t have tortured myself into sitting through it until the end credits.

David Spade plays heartbroken Tim Morris who finally moves on from his ex-fiance after meeting the perfect girl, Melissa (Molly Sims), in an airport before she disappears into an unknown destination. With her phone number as his only link to this “dream girl,” Morris begins incorporating her into his life by texting her. And, with the help of a snoopy colleague, he arranges for Melissa to join them in a company retreat in Hawaii to see her in person once again.

His plan to build a relationship with a stunning beauty in a paradise island turns into a disaster when he realizes he’d been texting the wrong Melissa the entire time — his lunatic blind date from the past, played with over-the-top performance by Lauren Lapkus (Orange is the New Black). But it’s too late, the wrong “Missy” is now on the plane with him to the company retreat. How she managed to get on the plane with a different surname was ignored by the script.

Directed by Tyler Spindel, with a screenplay by Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett, the movie’s jokes are lazy, juvenile, offensive and forced. I’m not talking about bad comedy here, but pure trash that relies on poorly timed slapstick and tasteless humor.

Spade is extremely overshadowed by Lapkus; his deadpan and tired performance is both unconvincing and absurdly too serious and nondescript to elicit laughter. And we understand that the film aims to make Lapkus as crazy as possible, but her crazy is not fun crazy, just torturous crazy.

Do your mental health a favor and avoid The Wrong Missy as much as you would avoid getting infected by COVID-19.

0 out of 5 stars

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