Film festivals giveth, but they also taketh away. When The Right Kind of Wrong had its world premiere last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, its status as an evening gala burdened this pleasantly comical diversion with expectations it was never intended to support. Now, no longer shoehorned into a beefy lineup of the season’s Most Important Films, its mild sitcom charms can breathe easier.
True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten plays Leo Palamino, a failed author-cum-dishwasher whose ex-wife becomes rich and famous chronicling his faults in a popular blog and bestselling book. But he shrugs off the insult, for not only does Leo have unusually thick skin, he has a new object of his affection: the comely, spirited Colette (Sara Canning).
So what if he first spots her on the day she is marrying the handsome lawyer-philanthropist-Olympian-with-perfect-teeth Danny Hart (Ryan McPartlin). “Everyone has baggage,” Leo says, propositioning her during the reception. And so he sets out to win Colette’s heart in all manner of socially inappropriate ways: sending her flowers on her honeymoon, stalking her at work, following her out to the mobile home she keeps as her secret haven from her new life of luxury. In the process, Leo gets beaten up by a gang of teens, evicted from his house and shot in the testicles while hang-gliding. Indeed testicular humour abounds.
Director Jeremiah Chechik, who has been working in TV since his last feature (The Avengers) 15 years ago, imposes a stiff pace on the proceedings, toggling between broad physical comedy that aches for a laugh track and oddball moments of genuine whimsy.
Canning is feisty and fun and Kwanten is besotted and bug-eyed, but keeping them apart leaves too little opportunity for fizzy cheer. Mind you, some performers can conjure droll eccentricity all on their own. Catherine O’Hara pops up every now and then as Colette’s free-spirited mom, and hits the sweet spot everyone else is aiming for. “If I were 20 years younger,” she tells Leo in a drawl, “and not in a committed polyamorous relationship with a bunch of people in Anchorage, I’d [have sex with] you.” More, please.