I Do & I Don't:
Nominal pros such as myself grow insanely leery of straight-to-DVD offerings. If it were Vegas, we'd have our fingers broken on a daily basis, for all the sucker bets we take watching such movies. This time, a 2007 Jane Lynch (Glee) headliner about the perils of marriage finds me happily flexing my intact digits. Funny, truthful and crass, this delightful comedy overcomes a shaky start to provide plenty of hearty laughs and a satisfying finish.
Bob Jacobs (Mad TV's Bryan Callen) loves Cheryl Murphy (Alexie Gilmore) enough to want to marry her. Cheryl's parents hate Bob enough to want to put him through hell in order to earn that right. Part of that trial involves Church-mandated couple-to-couple counseling. No big deal, just three Saturdays in a row. Yet when they first meet their counselors, older, experienced married couple Dick and Nora Stelmack (Matt Servitto and Lynch) it's clear right away something is seriously wrong. Luckily, their wrong is our right, as weird, inappropriate humor, negativity and more will keep you laughing until the more-realistic-than-usual happy ending sends you off with a pat.
Horror of horrors, voiceover narration introduces us to at-the-altar Bob and Cheryl: when asked if she does, Cheryl utters the film's title, reviewers slap their foreheads, and the movie flashes back. Things slowly get better after that, offering queasy hope. Then Bob and Cheryl meet Richard - "call me Dick" - Stelmack. As Dick, Servitto's wide-eyed mania - half evangelical, half 11-year-old airplane-glue-addict - jolts the movie a bit, and the laughs start. When Nora sashays in minutes into the first counseling session, and drunk off her ass, red flags rise. Will this be too broad, too earnest? Yes, and no. In fact Lynch barely utters anything during her first ten minutes of screen time, merely sloppily sneering in the background. This bold move, pulling back and getting weird, establishes writer/director Steve Blair's intent, which is to gouge laughs out of too broad, too earnest, acidic and corrupt humor that's still safe to watch with a date.
It comes a cropper, as my legally conscripted date and I laugh over numerous successive jokes, completely caught off guard. For a while it looks like Lynch's game. She's arch, aloof, odd and abstract, providing proof of her comic powers well before Glee came along, and generally trashing the place. Not to be overshadowed, Servitto turns it up to 11, oozing sexual desperation and depravity while occasionally snapping back into hypocritical, devout pedagogy. He's a pathetic man with fierce convictions, and when he puts a hairpiece on to go to the strip club, he looks pretty good. Of course Cabana-Boy Callen has an easy time cautiously burning slowly ala that 'Focker' Dustin Hoffman, while playing a decently realistic fiancÚ and getting in a few of his own laughs. Gilmore is appropriately cute, believable and funny in a rom-com kind of way, but is deprived of much of the good stuff doled out mostly to Lynch and Servitto.
As a 'movie' movie, I Do & I Don't falters occasionally, when a few overtly stylized scenes remove viewers, to no specific end, from the narrative. And a feel-good conclusion refutes much of the previously spewed bile in favor of a 'true love' ending. However, as the coda trundles towards the credits, you'll sniff a bit of too-true cynicism the likes of which only Morrissey regularly outlines. It's a truly refreshing dose of feelings only you yourself might admit to, even if you feel shameful for doing so.
I Do & I Don't doesn't really come in widescreen, as its 1.78:1 ratio is non-anamorphic, and even kindly listed on the case as full screen. Why is this? I don't know, maybe there is a true widescreen transfer out there somewhere, but I didn't get it. Overall, the picture is OK. Colors are nice, especially as highlighted in the amazing Stelmack home - all late-'60s style and grace - which is apparently the real home of the real Stelmack couple. Gotta love that verisimilitude! The look of heavy Digital Noise Reduction once-in-a-while makes things go all watery, but not too much, and overall detail levels and clarity are acceptable.
Both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Audio and 2.0 Stereo in English are offered. As a dialog-heavy movie, you'll do fine with the 2.0 track, although obviously the now-standard 5.1 track delivers a little more. While it sounds good, it doesn't seem necessary. Of note, however, are a few glaring instances of bad ADR or something, where for some moments everything sounds as if it were recorded in a metal tube.
Sadly, on-the-shelf product like this, idle too long, usually lacks significant extras. But in this case I'll take quality over quantity. Five minutes of Deleted Scenes display their ax-worthiness. Some open up plot avenues otherwise left ignored, some feature a big ol' boom mic in the frame, but most still deliver a laugh or two. A weird, two-minute Interview with Christopher Guest and Judd Apatow is no such thing; rather it's a pre-recorded congratulations to Lynch for winning a FLIFF Career Achievement Award. Whatever, though short, it's funny too. A Trailer, plus English Closed Captioning round out the extras.
For an old straight-to-DVD release meant to cash in on one of its star's newfound success, I Do & I Don't don't disappoint! It's broad; it's funny, sharp, crude, mean-spirited and ultimately just a little reassuring. While it won't be remembered as a classic years down the road, it's a true surprise rental that you won't mind watching twice. Surprisingly enjoyable, but with a dearth of extras, this release rides the line, so it at least comes with a hearty Rent It recommendation.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com