With only one year left on campus and a potential online senior fall, I’ve been thinking a lot about post-grad life, especially what that means for making friends and dating. Dating in the real world is probably one of the most intimidating parts about getting older (aside from crippling debt and a collapsing economy, of course). We leave college and we’re no longer all concentrated in one convenient place — there’s no way to cross paths with that cute person on the way to the philosophy class and bars are no longer somewhere to run into random acquaintances from the campus clubs we desperately joined as freshmen. And it really only gets worse as we become older, a fact that was plainly clear in Netflix’s new film “The Wrong Missy.”
The film follows Tim Morris (David Spade, “Warning Shot”), a banker fresh out of a messy breakup with his (cheating) fiancée, as he navigates the dating world, beginning with a disastrous first date where we meet the first Melissa (Lauren Lapkus, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie”). The date ends with Tim climbing out of a window, breaking his ankle and Melissa swooping in to reset the bone, not the cutest of relationship origin stories. Cut to three months later, and he bumps into a woman at the airport who he believes is his soulmate. And who also happens to be named Melissa (Molly Sims, “Ride or Die”). The film finds its title when Tim texts “the wrong Missy” to join him on a corporate retreat in Hawaii.
With David Spade as Tim Morris, a pitiful main character with little career or social prospects, and Lauren Lapkus depicting Melissa, his ludicrous quirky love interest, “The Wrong Missy” is only worth watching because we’re all stuck inside, or at least we should be, and there’s nothing better to do.
“The Wrong Missy” is a romantic comedy rooted in the classic mix-up scenario — the main character is looking for one person, but instead somehow finds themselves with another seemingly less-perfect alternative. In the case of “The Wrong Missy,” Tim ends up in Hawaii with the nutty Melissa from a disastrous first date instead of Melissa Doherty, the perfect blonde soulmate he bumped into at the airport all because he texted “the wrong Missy.” And despite the countless examples of good romantic mix-up films that came before it, “The Wrong Missy” somehow misses the mark. Instead, the relationship in question seems to come out of nowhere, leaving the audience questioning why exactly these two characters would ever end up together. There is no connection, no heartfelt moment in which everyone, including the audience, comes to understand and love the quirkiness of either character.
Beyond that, the idea of titling the film “The Wrong Missy” is problematic in and of itself. It becomes an exploration of what it means to pit women against each other — what about the Melissa who made it to Hawaii makes her “worse” than the one Tim had met at the airport? Sure, her jokes are a little bit out there, she comes on a little bit strong and their first date definitely could have gone better, but there’s nothing inherently “wrong” about her. There becomes a notable line between what “right” and “wrong” mean in the eyes of a man, and the film perpetuates this idea that a “perfect” woman exists. Obviously, the film really isn’t that deep; romantic comedies are notorious for these kinds of comparisons, especially between two women, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Let’s talk about Missy. And Melissa. And Tim’s ex. All three are strong women and, for some reason, all four have lives that seem to revolve around this man Tim Morris. I understand that this is a movie and it’s a fictional story, but realistically, none of these women would ever give Tim, or David Spade, any kind of attention. The fact that Netflix decided it would be a good idea to include a threesome, however unsuccessful, in the film just goes to show the impracticality of the fantasy of “The Wrong Missy.” If Tim was played by Adam Sandler, the character might be tolerable, if only because Sandler has a magnetic personality that lends itself to these kinds of pathetic people. But it’s David Spade. There is little sex appeal in Spade.
At the very least,“The Wrong Missy” is funny. Though it takes the first 15 minutes to understand what kind of humor the film is hoping to deliver, once the audience is comfortable, shocked laughter at various character hijinks makes the film fly by. I’m not one for physical comedy (think trying to make someone falling off a cliff funny), but in an age where drunkenly stumbling around Ann Arbor with your friends doing stupid things is a lost lifestyle, watching Missy embarrass herself in Hawaii is the next best thing.