Love Stinks (1999)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 10, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

The saying goes that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Love Stinks, you shouldn't judge it by the video box...or the title...or the male lead. It's better than those external elements suggest, but how could it be worse: Bridgette Wilson, clad in lingerie and a veil, digs her stiletto heel into the back of a bound and gagged French Stewart -- that's right, the most annoying of the annoying aliens on Third Rock From the Sun. But the J. Geils Band need not cringe -- Jeff Franklin's story is surprisingly clever, especially Stewart's snappy lines, which strike the right tone for a sitcom writer adept at riffing on the fly. Stewart manages to set aside the goofy affect, and a number of game supporters flesh out the ensemble, including Jason Bateman and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen spoofing their television backgrounds, and Seinfeld alums Steve Hytner (Banya) and John O'Hurley (Peterman). This might all translate into a dandy recommendation if it weren't for the little matter of all the misogyny. At first starting with a mild and truthful sketch of a woman pushing a tad too hard to get married, Franklin reduces Wilson's character to a hell-bent shrew without any remaining shreds of sympathy. As the movie degenerates into a succession of alternating revenge fantasies, it loses its deceptively shrewd edge, slipping from observant relationship comedy to simplistic portrait of one-sided obsessiveness. Sometimes the cover isn't that far off after all.