There’s cast against type, and then there’s David Spade’s presence in “The Wrong Missy.“
Spade forged his comic identity as the too cool for school scold on “Saturday Night Live.” His biggest movie role came as the stuffed shirt trying to corral Chris Farley in “Tommy Boy.”
And then there’s “Joe Dirt.” ’nuff said.
Actors routinely play against their personas, but Spade’s work in the Netflix comedy suggests an unwelcome thought.
Why even bother?
Spade stars as Tim, an office drone stuck on a nightmarish first date as the story opens. You’d run away from Missy, too, even if she packed the crazed energy Lauren Lapkus brings to the role.
Worst. Date. Ever. And it’s not even close.
Three months later, Tim has a meet-cute moment with another, more conventional Missy (Molly Sims). This one is stunning, elegant and endlessly charmed by Tim.
So when Tim’s boss (Geoff Pierson) invites his employees to a Hawaiian retreat he can’t wait to show off his new flame. Only a text mixup worthy of “Three’s Company” finds the first, incorrigible Missy receiving the invitation.
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To say all heck breaks loose next is an understatement. Think projectile vomiting, Mile High Club antics and the least sexy menage a trois ever committed to film.
“The Wrong Missy,” from the Happy Madison production line, is never so bad you’ll lunge for the remote. You may doubt that decision during its most grating moments. It helps that Rob Schneider snags some laughs as a wacky shark victim. Happy Madison mainstay Nick Swardson does the same with his limited screen time.
Give oodles of credit to Lapkus, too. You can see the “Crashing” alum breaking out, big time, in a vehicle worthy of her oddball gifts.
This ain’t it.
Director Tyler Spindel (“Father of the Year”) should have had her dial down the crazy a half dozen notches. Maybe more. Lapkus’ comic vibrations would still shock everyone around her, but she’d resemble a human being.
We’d also appreciate a micro-back story to explain her frantic shtick. Insecurity? Anger? How about being stuck with a leading man who’s too old for the part?
That sounds cruel, but it’s hard to avoid. “The Wrong Missy” is tailor-made for a 20- or 30-something star. At 55, Spade looks out of place in his own film. The screenplay makes a few lame age cracks at his expense, but it hardly rectifies the matter.
A middle-aged Tim would see life, and relationships, far differently than the Tim Spade portrays. Sure, this is a crude, unexpurgated comedy, and that kind of critique feels harsh. Humor has to be grounded in some reality to leave a mark, and too often “The Wrong Missy” ignores that fact.
Seeing Tim’s boss hypnotized into thinking he’s his beloved aunt, for example, is a Brooklyn Bridge too far.
Naturally, Tim soon sees something special in Lapkus’ Missy, a transition the film handles as well as could be expected. From there it’s a race to the formulaic bottom, albeit one both Spade and Lapkus handle with a modicum of depth.
HiT or Miss: “The Wrong Missy” is pure Happy Madison Productions — crude, lazy and with just enough star power to keep us engaged.