Sally (Lara Jean Chorostecki) writes a Toronto newspaper column called “Mr. Know It All,” in which she answers all and sundry questions put to her by readers. One thing her readers haven’t asked is whether Mr. is really a Ms., so when a celebrity endorsement renders Mr. Know It All a rather curiously incomprehensible media sensation, Sally has to find a public male face for the column to keep up appearances.
She spots a handsome guy named Albert (Jefferson Brown) in a movie theatre and decides his face will do. Problem is, Albert is a hit man, and once his face appears above Sally’s column, his cover is blown. So Albert, left apparently with no other choice, tracks down Sally intending to kill her, but – a brief pause here for suspense – falls in love with her instead.
The generic context of Colin Carter and Sandra Feldman’s Please Kill Mr. Know It All is romantic comedy, so I blow nothing by informing you of the preceding point: If Albert did actually kill Sally, or if Sally actually turned the tables and killed Albert, we’d be in darkest film-noir territory, which is where characters go to die for their transgressions, fears and bad choices. In romantic comedies they fall in love and get married.
If both genres involve a degree of predestination – one customarily involving death and the other marriage – at least noir trades in finding circuitous routes to the inevitable. Very rarely are such detours permitted in the romcom, which programs the old narrative GPS for Happily-Ever-Afterville as soon as its ostensibly ill-matched couple lock googly eyes on each other. So when Albert meets Sally, the jig is up. You know where they’re headed.
The ride gets bumpy almost immediately, however, and the scenery is as familiar as what you might see driving to a job you’ve had for more years than you care to remember. When we meet Sally, she’s sharing memories of how her childhood spoiled her for romantic love, and those memories, along with her glasses, indicate that she’ll be divested of both cynicism and eyewear by the time we get to the final vows. Love makes one happy, but also corrects one’s vision.
Yet if Sally’s having problems seeing clearly – at least before she meets Albert – you won’t struggle seeing the problems with this film, such as the fact that the very reason why Sally has to find a bogus male cover for her column never quite makes any dramatic sense, or that Albert may be the most handsome and well-dressed hit man since Alain Delon or Pierce Brosnan plied the trade.
Add to this the fact that both of our young lovers are hitched to wisecracking sidekick characters who feel as authentic as the beard Albert’s wearing when we first meet him, or that all the so-called mob characters speak in Soprano-esque “Joisey” accents even in the shadow of the CN Tower, or that Sally actually says things like: “My name’s Sally by the way … well, not Sally By-the-Way … just Sally …” (to which Albert replies, “Hello Just-Sally …”) – and you might find yourself wanting to put this film out of its misery.