Best Movies You’ve Never Seen: LOVE STINKS

Writer/Director Jeff Franklin
Released September 1999
Studio: Sony

I caught this charming little romantic comedy on cable a few years after it came out, and always enjoyed it. French Stewart stars as Seth, a writer for a successful TV sitcom. The film opens with him and his fiance Chelsea (co-star Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) rushing to Las Vegas for a quickie wedding. The only people coming with them are Seth’s friend and writing partner Larry (Bill Bellamy) and Larry’s wife Holly (Tyra Banks). Frank and Chelsea seem very happy but while on the plane Larry drags Seth into the bathroom and tries to convince him to call off the wedding because Larry thinks Chelsea is crazy. But Seth seems determined to go through with it, so Larry gives a recap of Seth and Chelsea’s relationship.

The rest of the film is told in flashback, with Larry narrating. Seth and Chelsea met a couple years ago at the rehearsal dinner for Larry and Holly’s wedding, where Seth is going to be a Groomsman and Chelsea is going to be a Bridesmaid. Sparks fly between the two of them, and at the wedding they each ditch the dates they came with and go out together later that night. They have sex that first night (but only after having three meals together, which is Chelsea’s dating rule), and begin a whirlwind romance. Chelsea is an interior designer, and she redecorates Seth’s house for him. She tells Holly she thinks Seth is the one. But even early on there are hints at Chelsea’s obsessive nature. She sets up a room in Seth’s house a kid’s room, for any future kids he may have. While visiting the set of his sitcom she acts jealous of a young actress that Seth works with. She tells Seth she loves him and then throws a fit until he feels pressured to say it back. Then she tricks him into getting him to invite her to move in with him. A few months later while on a trip together for Valentine’s Day she acts upset, saying she expected Seth to propose. He ends up making a deal with her to wait a year and see if they feel like getting engaged then. She agrees. But she continues her jealous ways and so when the year is up, he’s still not ready to propose. Chelsea gets mad and they break up. But that’s when the real trouble (for Seth) starts.

Chelsea sues Seth for Palimony. She also refuses to move out of the house, claiming that she’s entitled to half of it because she’s been living there for over a year. And she wants profits from his sitcom because Seth has occasionally used actual events from their relationship as the basis for episodes. So the two of them engage in various petty pranks against each other, each trying to drive the other out of the house. The conflicts reach sometimes hilarious and often juvenile levels until Seth finally proposes to Chelsea, saying that he realizes that they’re both too crazy for anyone else and they belong together, which brings us back to the present as they’re heading for Vegas.

No spoilers for the ending. You’ll just have to tune in for yourself to see how this wedding turns out. Overall this is a delightful film. I think some women might object to the premise and the characterization of Chelsea as this needy woman desperate to trap a man, feeling that this is a stereotype that is insulting to women. And, well, I guess I can’t really argue with that, but I still thought it was funny. I was mostly surprised by and impressed with the performance of French Stewart. Being most familiar with him as various oddball characters it was hard at first to picture him as a leading man in a romantic role, but he pulled it off. Bridgett Wilson-Sampras is also very likable, even as she’s playing a very unlikable character. Bellamy and Banks are also fine in their supporting roles, as are Jason Bateman and Tiffani Thiessen, who have small roles playing the stars of Seth and Larry’s sitcom. Nobody is winning any Academy Awards for this, but it’s funny and got heart. And that’s why I recommend it.



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