Saturday, July 10, 2010

Straight-to-DVD: Steve Blair's semi-starry, sort-of funny rom-com I DO & I DON'T

You might think that using as the subject of a modern romantic comedy the tribulations associated with an upcoming marriage would have been pretty much  exhausted by now. You'd be right. Yet there is always "room for one more, honey," though the end result might well crash and burn. Marriage is just too juicy a subject for young filmmakers not to tackle, it seems, and so into the fray flies Steve Blair, a Baltimore-born filmmaker (actor, writer, producer), whose first try at both writing and directing is titled I DO & I DON'T.

Mr. Blair, shown at left, is in charge of a company called Bmore Pictures, a nice moniker that doubles as a nickname for Baltimore and an exhortation to "do better."  (Baltimore, in fact, is given the largest credit of anything in the end-credit sequence!)  His work as a writer on I Do & I Don't is adequate, but his directorial skills could use some honing.   He places the camera generally front and center and lets his cast -- a good one -- do its job.  Only once in the movie does the camerawork rise above the prosaic: a very funny angle of the bride-to-be spreading her legs and relaxing in her wedding dress, flanked by her "mentor" and her "dresser."

Blair's story involves a young couple (his second marriage, her first) that the bride's parents insist must obtain pre-marital counseling via "the Church."  Due to the necessity for speed, the pair ends up in the clutches of a nut-case older couple who involve their "wards" in everything from their own problematic marriage (above) to a nudist colony (below).

There is some fun to be had here: some physical comedy that works, and an occasional line that draws a laugh.  And toward the conclusion the filmmaker gets a bit more daring with ideas -- about trust, truth, what a real commitment to marriage might mean.  The movie actually begins with the bride's declaration of "I do.. and I don't," but we don't hear the actual outcome of this until the finale.

Made four years ago, but only now getting distribution (and straight-to-video, at that), Blair's film boasts a better cast than you might expect:  Bryan Callen (above, left: mostly from TV and cable) and Alexie Gilmore (above, right: World's Greatest Dad, Mercy) plays the about-to-be newlyweds, and they're both as good as the script and direction allow, while Jane Lynch (shown below, right, from Glee and other TV) and the fine character actor Matt Servito (shown at left, below) nail the older couple.

A few years previous to the making of this movie, a really brilliant and award-winning Italian film called Casomai (from 2002) explored similar territory, as a young couple prepares for marriage, again with the help of the Church-- but via a very unusual young priest.  Never released here in the States, except at the occasional festival (TrustMovies saw it at the FSLC's Open Roads), the movie was a stunner -- funny, warm, real,

moving and very surprising -- the best film about entering into modern marriage that I have yet seen.  I hope Mr. Blair gets to see Casomai someday.  Meanwhile, his movie makes its DVD debut next Tuesday, July 20, via Phase 4 Films, available for sale or rental.

Photos are from the film itself , 
while those of Mr. Servitto 
and Ms Lynch come via 
Sam Holden Photography. 
Mr. Blair's photo is courtesy of Urbanite.

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