Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nick Castle|
|Produced by||Marty Katz|
|Written by||Chris Matheson
|Music by||Craig Safan|
|Edited by||Patrick Kennedy|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$12.8 million|
Mr. Wrong is a 1996 American romantic/black comedy film starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Pullman. It was a critical failure and box office bomb. DeGeneres still mentions it occasionally in her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, poking fun at the disastrous reception of her major film debut.
The film begins with Martha Alston (DeGeneres) in a wedding gown incarcerated in a Mexican prison. The investigators call her Mrs. Crawford and listen to her explain why she committed murder on her wedding day.
Some months earlier, at her younger sister's wedding, Martha is pestered by her family about when she'll get married. At work, she rejects a date with a younger coworker, Walter (John Livingston). Disappointed by her dull Valentine's Day blind date, she goes home to sulk in front of the TV, where, inundated by romantic imagery, she is prompted to get out of the house.
Martha goes to a bar where she drops her quarter in front of the jukebox. She bends down to get it when a man shows up and selects the same song she would have chosen. He is Whitman Crawford (Pullman), and they instantly hit it off. They go back to his house and have sex. He says he's a poet and an investor. He reads her one of his poems.
Martha introduces Whitman to her family and he impresses them. But by the time she meets his mother (Plowright), Martha has become convinced he is not "Mr. Right" at all. Whitman at this point is revealed to be a crafty, devious, narcissistic, sociopath who hides behind a charming nice-guy persona that fools everyone he comes into contact with. To make matters worse, Whitman's ex-girlfriend, Inga (Joan Cusack) (who is nearly as crazy and sociopathic as Whitman), and her accomplice, Bob (Brad William Henke), begin harassing Martha who decides to break up with Whitman. Inga refuses to believe that Martha has dumped Whitman. Whitman also refuses to believe he has been dumped and he begins stalking Martha and trying to woo her back in increasingly ridiculous ways. Martha soon becomes frustrated and desperate after the manipulative Whitman tells her whole smitten and obilivious family that they are engaged to be married. He even buys off her private investigator (Dean Stockwell) that she hires to make a background check on him. All of Martha's attempts to expose Whitman as the sociopath that he is to her friends and family is met with disbelief and skeptisim from everyone due to his skill of lying and manipulation. Whitman goes as far as to abduct Martha to Mexico to marry her there.
At the church where Whitman is forcing Martha to get married, Walter shows up to rescue Martha from the wedding, but trips. His gun falls into her hand and she shoots Whitman. Then she's arrested, which leads to Martha telling the local authorities her story. However, even the Mexican investigators are unsympathetic and conclude that she murdered him intentionally. As they are transporting her away, Walter springs her out of jail with Bob's help and explains that it was Inga who did it. Walter claims that Whitman is still alive and he will recover from his wound.
After meeting up with Bob in the desert, Martha and Walter ride a horse west towards the sunset, while Bob leaves to return to Inga. Title cards over the closing scene explain that Martha and Walter eventually turned north and returned to the USA, Inga and Bob got married and opened a pet store in Albuquerque, and Whitman continues his search for love.
- Ellen DeGeneres as Martha Alston
- Bill Pullman as Whitman Crawford
- Joan Cusack as Inga Gunther
- Dean Stockwell as Jack Tramonte
- Joan Plowright as Mrs. Crawford
- Hope Davis as Annie
- Ellen Cleghorne as Jane
- Robert Goulet as Braxton
- John Livingston as Walter
Rita Kempley, writing for The Washington Post, assessed the film a "sour, listless debunking of romantic comedies, ... [with] fewer laughs than Looking for Mr. Goodbar" and laments that "Ellen DeGeneres, a comedian and sitcom star in her film debut, [who] is ostensibly the protagonist here" does not control the action, but her character "merely reacts to [Whitman's] twists and turn-ons".
James Berardinelli of ReelViews criticized the film's premise, writing, "This is a romantic comedy parody, but how can you satirize something that's a comedy to begin with? If this motion picture is an example, not only can't it be done, but the result is downright ugly." He also questioned DeGeneres' appeal, calling her performance "irritating".
Not every critic disparaged the film. Martin and Porter gave it three stars, and while acknowledging that "the script is predictable and Nick Castle's direction is only adequate", they found that "DeGeneres's personal charm and a few inspired gags make it all worthwhile".
The film debuted at No. 6.
- "Mr. Wrong (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes (Flixster. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
- LaSalle, Mick (August 23, 1996). "Little Right About `Mr. Wrong'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
- Kempley, Rita (February 17, 1996). "'Mr. Wrong' (PG-13)". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
- Berardinelli, James. "Mr. Wrong". ReelViews. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
- Mick Martin & Marsha Porter, DVD & Video Guide 2005 New York: Random House Publishing Group (2004), p. 737
- ROBERT W. WELKOS (21 February 1996). "Weekend Box Office : It's a Bull's-Eye for 'Broken Arrow'". L.A. Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
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