Written by Daryn Tufts
Directed by Christopher Gorham
Starring Christopher Gorham, Elizabeth Tulloch, Sebastian Roche, Jack McBrayer, Paula Marshall, David Nibley, Andie Nibley, Sarah Jayne Jensen and more
Grade: Three and a half stars
It turns out someone still knows how to make sweet, funny comedies instead of embarrassing, gross ones.
Proof of that can be found in “We Love You, Sally Carmichael,” the delightful new romantic comedy opening this Friday at the Megaplex Theatres in Centerville and West Valley. The movie is only technically an LDS comedy – the lead character states that he’s LDS, and there’s no swearing – but the focus is squarely on entertaining the audience. Not only was I rooting for the romance, but I laughed harder than I have at a new comedy in a long time.
The movie is based around a premise I never knew I needed until I saw it play out onscreen. Our intrepid hero, Simon, is a struggling author depressed by the fact no one bought his first book. So he decides to write a formulaic romance in which a human girl and a merman fall in love, but he sends it in under the pen name Sally Carmichael. Everyone loves it, to the degree of a best-selling trilogy, screaming fangirls, costumes, and an impending movie deal. No one has seen Sally Carmichael, but everyone is convinced a Mormon housewife from Utah has penned the critically panned but immensely popular books.
(No, there are no vampires or werewolves anywhere near here. Whatever on earth would give you that idea?)
This is only the first few minutes of the movie, communicated with economical charm by a series of children’s drawings and a quick report on the local news. The real problems for Simon start when a popular actor wants to play the merman in the recently announced movie, but won’t do it unless he can meet the “real” Sally Carmichael.
Simon doesn’t want to – he hates the books so much he wants out of his contract completely – but the publisher will sue if he doesn’t. Can he keep up the façade, especially when a bookstore owner makes him want to be himself for the first time in a long time?
It’s a genuine treat to find out. Christopher Gorham, best known from the TV series “Covert Affairs,” shows off a light, charming touch directing his first feature-length film. The movie, written by Daryn Tufts, comes from an older school of comedy – part wordplay, part screwball comedy – and Gorham helps make the absolutely delightful script shine.
He’s also sweet and humorously dry as Simon, who spends most of the movie just over his head enough for it to be funny. His chemistry with Elizabeth Tulloch, the bookstore owner, is both sweet and genuine. Tulloch is also great just on her own, bringing both a tenderness and toughness to the character that makes it hard not to be on her side.
Gorham’s interactions with his brother, played by local actor David Nibley, are deadpan in the best way. One scene in which the two play a “Call of Duty”-like game is especially fun.
Sebastian Roche is a melodramatic delight as actor Perry Quinn, who seems to live in a slightly different universe than everyone else. He and Gorham are a screwball comedy all on their own, and the scenes we get to see of him actually playing the merman are an absolute treat.
Since this is a locally made movie, the opening weekend box office take is a huge factor in determining how long it will get to stay in theaters. If you want more sweet, genuinely hilarious comedies in theaters, please go out and support this movie. You won’t regret it.