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The good news: Doctor Who’s David Tennant is starring in a romantic comedy, The Decoy Bride. The bad news: the movie is mediocre at best.
The film is opening on Friday (March 9) only in New York and Los Angeles. But take heart, true blue Tennant fans, because Bride is available in 50 million U.S. homes via video on demand (check with your local cable company).
In Bride, Tennant, 40, plays the male lead opposite Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire). Fittingly enough for these two Scottish-born stars, the movie is set mostly on the fictional, remote Scottish island of Hegg, described as the westernmost of the Outer Hebrides.
The good former Doctor – he starred on the TV series from 2005-2009 – portrays James Arber, an author who is engaged to a hugely popular American movie star (Britisher Alice Eve). They journey to tiny Hegg in hopes of being able to wed without attracting the paparazzi, but the press soon finds them.
Katie NicAoidh (Macdonald), a local woman who has returned home from Edinburgh after various romantic and professional disappointments, is drafted to fill in as a decoy to distract the press from the real bride’s whereabouts. She and James take an instant dislike to each other. Obviously, this being a romantic comedy, they are meant for each other.
As co-written by Sally Phillips (the star of BBC’s Smack the Pony and Miranda also plays a supporting role here), the movie labors to charm and be eccentric but both the plot and dialogue feel recycled. Tennant and Macdonald do get a few amusing scenes in which they bicker relentlessly, but nothing they say is clever or biting enough to make Bride seem like more than warmed over, romantic comedy oatmeal.
Single best and worst part: Tennant spends much of the final third of the movie traipsing about in a circa 1978 outfit, squeezed into bright plaid, bell bottom pants, a clashing paisley shirt and a fur-trimmed leather vest.
The movie is also having a limited theatrical release in the U.K., where it made its debut last month at the Glasgow Film Festival. A tepid review in the Scotsman called it “twee,” described Tennant’s performance as “surprisingly charmless,” and criticized the film for “corny dialogue and slack pacing.”
No need to worry, though, that any of this will hurt Tennant’s career. Since making the film, he has already completed work on another movie and is shooting a second, and he returns to the BBC in the U.K. later this year in True Love, an improvised series. He will play a happily married man whose first inamorata returns to town in Love’s first episode (actors Billie Piper, Jane Horrocks, Ashley Walters and David Morrissey will each star in one of the four successive episodes).
Do you hope to see The Decoy Bride, no matter the reviews?