Lauren Lapkus is in full-on goof mode alongside an uptight, square David Spade in the new Netflix comedy The Wrong Missy, a light, exceptionally silly romantic flick that’s the sort of pure nutty fun we don’t see often enough in films anymore. It has an early Adam Sandler movie feel – a story passable enough to follow, with a pursuit for love you actually care about, though it’s above all else a vehicle for funny, vulgar lines, slapstick nonsense, and off-the-wall character work. It differs from Sandler (and Happy Madison) films in that the comedic weight is carried by our female co-star Lapkus, who makes The Wrong Missy the surprisingly funny little force it is.
The film follows Tim Morris (David Spade,) a lonely, plain guy working in sales who hasn’t quite gotten over his ex-fiance. In the opening scene he’s on a disastrous blind date with Missy (Lapkus,) who couldn’t be less tamed than Tim. She’s crass, abrasive, very openly horny, and the proud owner of a comically large knife named Sheila. Tim fails to successfully escape the date after falling from a window.
Several months later, he runs into a woman at the airport, causing the two to mix up their luggage. He finds out her name also happens to be Melissa (Molly Sims,) and the two share a frightening amount in common: Neither of them drink alcohol. They both happen to be reading the same James Patterson book. They even carry the same duffle bag. After Tim and Melissa share some comforting conversation at the airport bar, they end up making out in a janitor’s closet. The steamy session gets cut short, however, and they exchange numbers before parting ways.
Not long after, Tim is mentally preparing to leave for a corporate trip to Hawaii with his entire company. He musters up the courage to ask Melissa to accompany him. But here’s where matters get predictably wild. He unknowingly invites the dreaded first Missy whom he thinks he hasn’t spoken to in months. Cue all the expected insanity, mishaps, and somewhat endearing character development along the way.
What ensues isn’t average awkwardness or mild embarrassment. Missy torments Tim by constantly getting inebriated, behaving without an ounce of class, and capturing every bit of attention. Ultimately, though, she’s unusually captivating and likable. How could Tim’s colleagues not be intrigued by a psychic/paramedic/substance abuse counselor/hypnotist/anything else she took a class to become?
Just as Missy hogs the spotlight throughout every leg of Tim’s work trip. Lapkus absolutely steals the show in every scene of The Wrong Missy. She comes in guns blazing, flexing every one of her comedy muscles, of which she has many. While she does have a slew of hysterical lines, her cadence and delivery make even the lesser ones quite funny. Her physical presence is a ridiculous sight to behold. Her gift as an improviser truly shines through each and every moment she’s on screen. As she consistently makes the funniest possible choices.
Lapkus gives undoubtedly one of the most hysterical film performances in the last decade. Which is what makes The Wrong Missy more than your standard Happy Madison comedy. Nick Swardson, too, is quite remarkable here, and responsible for the remainder of the film’s laugh-worthy moments. He has his glimpses of manic absurdity, but he’s far more subdued than we’ve typically seen him. Of course, when you’re primarily recognized as a rollerblading gay prostitute in Reno 911 or an agoraphobic man-child with a bowl cut in The Bench Warmers, any bit part you take on would seem understated. That being said, his performance as David Spade’s dry, dickish coworker is one to appreciate.
Spade, on the other hand, is difficult to praise here. It’s understood he’s playing the straight man to Lapkus’ goof. But he plays it straight to the point of being impossible to feel anything for. He’s emotionless, absent of shtick, and without a single funny line. Sure, his intention was to leave the stage open for Lapkus’ nuttiness, but he’s painfully dull as a result. Perhaps we’re just accustomed to an abundance of charisma from the Saturday Night Live, Tommy Boy, and Joe Dirt veteran. And it’s staggering to see him as a spineless, boring, and uncertain schlub? He’s a legend known for his snark. And it would have been nice to at least get a taste of that smarmy confidence.
Luckily, The Wrong Missy has enough Lauren Lapkus insanity and the right pepperings of other funny stars to make up for Spade’s strange emptiness. By “other funny stars” I don’t mean Rob Schneider. He is present, and we have to give that to him. But this is one of many flicks he needn’t have bothered for. It’s evident he wants to pleasantly surprise audiences with yet another cameo as an ethnically ambiguous dunce who can’t maintain an accent. But it’s neither funny nor memorable here. Despite that, Schneider doesn’t hold back any of what works. Talentless or not. He’s somewhat of a comforting staple in these sorts of movies. And it would be almost weird not to see him wedged in for the sake of it.
All in all, The Wrong Missy provides the basic ingredients of a Happy Madison film. But rises above the majority thanks almost entirely to a brilliantly whacky performance from Lauren Lapukus we may not be given a particularly complex plot, nor anything stylistically beautiful or inventive. But there’s an admissible love story, some very funny lines, and a few grossout and slapstick moments you’ll be mad at yourself for laughing so hard at. In this new world of indie dramedies and action thrillers marketed as comedies, we need more straight up goofiness like The Wrong Missy. At the very least, it’s a merry escape through which you’ll have a few chuckles and witness the comedic acting magnificence of Lauren Lapkus. If you’ve remotely enjoyed any Happy Madison film in the past, or simply like an above-average dumb comedy then do yourself a favor and give it a watch.