Sex, Sunsets, and Spite for Bloggers

The Right Kind of Wrong
(Canada, 97 min.)
Dir. Jeremiah Chechik, Writ. Megan Martin
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Sara Canning, Ryan McPartin, Kristen Hager, Will Sasso, and Catherine O’Hara.
Leo (Ryan Kwanten) and Snow the cat in The Right Kind of Wrong.
Photo by:  Sabrina Lantos

“Writing a blog doesn’t make you a writer,” says Leo Palamino when his ex-wife Julie (Kristen Hager) appears on TV to chat about her blog with Maria Menounos. Kristen, a grade-A cuss, started a blog called Why You Suck during her marriage with Leo and shared with the world her feelings over her husband’s failings. Leo has every right to feel jaded, although his reaction seems more like wounded pride. Neither Leo nor Kristen, though, can seem to let anything go.

The Right Kind of Wrong is thus premised on a break-up fuelled by blogger hate. Kristen, a petty, shrill, and nasty woman, writes the kind of private musings that make online writers a pejorative. The Right Kind of Wrong portrays Kristen as an amateurish hack from the opening credits, as the introductory graphics correct typos and spilling mistakes the blogger generates as her popularity soars by divorcing her husband in the court of public opinion. It’s nasty, humiliating break-up, but also one that puts both writers and readers of online work in an unflattering umbrella of voyeurism and childishness. Leo might be right that writing a blog doesn’t make one a writer, but writing a blog doesn’t necessarily make one a vindictive bitch, either. The film offers some redemption for Kristen, although it comes a little too late to excuse ninety-minutes of hack blogger jokes.

Kristen’s key criticism of Leo is that he refuses to listen to any criticism someone offers him. This trait led him to become a failed writer and thirty-year-old dishwasher, which are other flaws the world has read, although neither trended with the same popularity as the samples of Leo’s crappy self-guitar solos or the time he shat his pants in Paris. (As someone who once puked in the Palace of Versailles, I can say that this sort of thing is embarrassing, but easy to laugh about.) Leo, supposedly unshakeable, absorbs Kristen’s public shaming like a Marge Simpson-y bathmat. He is defined by her witty observations, both in the minds of others and in the literate(ish) voiceover that rambles throughout the film. Everyone Leo encounters in the picturesque fictional town of Mount Yalo (the film was shot in the Rockies around Banff and Canmore) seems to have read Why You Suck. The Right Kind of Wrong, for all its unflattering portrayal of the writer, admits that bloggers have a decent reach, which is why one-dimensional caricatures like Kristen are best left on the cutting room floor.
Sara Canning as Collette. Photo by Sabrina Lantos
Leo is most devastated when he realizes that the newest love of his life, Collette (an impressive Sara Canning), has already read Kristen’s web rant. Leo falls in love with Collette when his young friends Ravi (Mateen Devji) and Pia (Maya Samy) hurl a football at a wedding party congregating at the church across the street from Leo’s home. Collette, the bride, punts the pigskin back at Leo and he’s smitten at first sight.

As the guy from “True Blood” pursues the girl from “The Vampire Diaries”, The Right Kind of Wrong puts Leo and Collette in a Barney’s Version-ish love story in which an underdog chases after a woman he met at a wedding. (Oddly enough, The Right Kind of Wrong is the latest venture from Barney’s Version producer Robert Lantos.) Collette’s husband, Danny (Ryan McPartin), is all wrong for Collette even though he seems like the perfect man. All Leo’s faults are public record, though, so Collette has widely different filters with which to view the men.

Leo Palamino also remains cheery in spite of the blogosphere backlash messing up his mojo, like his distressed cat Balls, who is left partner-less when Julie splits with their other cat, Snow, simply to spite Leo. (Another gross inaccuracy in the portrayal of bloggers in The Right Kind of Wrong is the film’s obliviousness to the fact that bloggers love cats.) Grumpy, ugly Balls nearly steals the show, though, as he struggles with loneliness, arthritis, and medicinal marijuana.

The Right Kind of Wrong is often endearing as Leo tries his darnedest to sway Collette away from the character that Julie has created in the public eye. It’s sweet to see a romantic comedy in which a flawed Romeo has only his virtues to reveal as the courtship continues. Kwanten is likable as the rugged and boyishly optimistic Leo Palamino. Leo’s perseverance in spite of the punches thrown by Danny and his indistinguishable friends (plus Collette’s rebuffs of his affection) is charming, especially since his attempts to win her affection rewrite the labels Julie put on him.

Much else in the love story between the spirit animals feels forced, though, as The Right Kind of Wrong threads the Rocky Mountain courtship of Leo and Collette in a series of forced, sitcommy scenarios and a subplot involving a symbolic “ghost bear” that seems a little too one the nose. The Right Kind of Wrong also misses the opportunity to do much with the talented Catherine O’Hara, who gives a fun performance in an underwritten role as Collette’s mother. Will Sasso, on the other hand, gets some decent opportunities for laughs with Jennifer Baxter in a subplot involving Leo’s two married friends who keep the spark of their marriage alive by taking PDA to the next level. More notable, however, is the onscreen diversity of this production, which offers a far more inclusive, representative, and colourful cast than some recent Hollywood productions. Devji and Samy are especially fun as the children of Leo’s colleague, played by Raoul Bhaneja.

The Right Kind of Wrong doesn’t always work, but it’s a forgivable kind of wrong as Jeremiah Chechik (Benny and Joon, Christmas Vacation) brings this adaption of Tim Sandlin’s novel Sex & Sunsets to the screen. The Right Kind of Wrong provides some sweet rom-com escapism in spite of its unevenness and anti-blogger venom. The production affords some heartwarming slips into landscape porn as the camera takes in the beautiful and romantic setting. Shot by Take This Waltz DP Luc Montpellier, The Right Kind of Wrong offers another fun-in-the-sun Can Con rom-com for audiences. The sex isn’t great, but the sunsets are truly gorgeous. Even bloggers like to get out and enjoy the view!

Rating: ★★½  (out of ★★★★★)

The Right Kind of Wrong is currently playing in theatres.