A spirited turn from Lauren Lapkus can’t quite save the Sandler crew’s newest misfire.
In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, several staples of everyday life have vanished. Go-to social hangouts are now empty. Annual festivals & events have been cancelled. Graduation ceremonies have been shunted to Zoom meetings. So many permanent fixtures of this world are (temporarily) no more. However, in these times of uncertainty, one constant remains: Happy Madison dropping middling comedies like Netflix’s The Wrong Missy. Like Old Man River, Happy Madison keeps rolling along.
The Wrong Missy is the newest star vehicle for David Spade, who plays office worker Tim Morris. Mild-mannered to the extreme, Morris is a poor match for his blind date Missy (Lauren Lapkus). She’s brash, eccentric, dangerous, and wields a gigantic knife that she calls Sheila. After one date, Tim plans to never see Missy again. Soon, his heart is set on Melissa (Molly Sims), a woman who shares his love for not drinking and airport novels.
Tim becomes so infatuated with Melissa that he decides to invite her to his company’s big Hawaii retreat. Unfortunately, a text snafu means Tim ends up inviting Missy instead. Now Tim has to deal with this human tornado, right as he’s trying to get a promotion from his boss (Geoff Pierson).
At the very least, The Wrong Missy gives Lapkus a chance to shine in a leading role. Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas’ screenplay tosses her an avalanche of wacky antics and extreme mood shifts to work with. Not all these gags hit their mark, but Lapkus gives the role her all.
The funniest moments come from Lapkus’ dedication to portraying such a comedically unbridled character. In these flashes of inspiration, it finds an unpredictable groove worth laughing at. Unfortunately, way too much of The Wrong Missy opts for the familiar; director Tyler Spindel chooses to embrace all the most tired staples of Happy Madison comedies. Bathroom humor, a celebrity cameo, Rob Schneider, a swarm of fat jokes — they’re all here in their most insipid form.
Meanwhile, the arc of Tim and Missy’s relationship goes down every predictable path, including a cornball conclusion shockingly devoid of even attempts at jokes. The strangest part is just how safe it plays things; despite the zany-to-the-max promise of its titular character, the film’s idea of what constitutes edgy is oddly old-fashioned. In the world of The Wrong Missy, the very existence of marijuana is shocking, nudes are a crazy new concept and “Wazzup!” is a timely pop culture reference.
In the world of The Wrong Missy, the very existence of marijuana is shocking, nudes are a crazy new concept and “Wazzup!” is a timely pop culture reference.
Even a three-way sex scene between Tim, Missy and Tim’s ex-lover Julia (Sarah Chalke) ends up engaging in both tired slapstick and heterosexual monogamy. The Wrong Missy’s attempts to be the edgiest comedy of 1995 inspire yawns rather than gasps or laughs. Spade’s just as forgettable; whenever he shares the screen with Lauren Lapkus, he vanishes against her energy, rather than serving as an amusing straight-man to her antics. For someone who started out as one of the ‘90s most fast-talking, acerbic comics, he’s wildly disappointing here. (Apparently Spade’s taking over for Sandler, who dropped out of the role; perhaps the disconnect of Spade aping a Sandler performance is where this blandness comes from.)
Like most Happy Madison joints for the last, oh, couple decades, The Wrong Missy feels like a misfire on about every level. The one bright spot, though, is Lapkus, who brings a wild-eyed energy to her outsized role that makes you almost thankful she’s been given a big, meaty role in a film like this. Even so, it’s a shame the rest of the film isn’t up to her level. Better luck next time.
The Wrong Missy is currently streaming on Netflix.