Friday, November 25, 2022

Merry Kiss Cam: Movie Review

Hockey and love and comedy in an indie rom-com.
Shot and set in Duluth, Minnesota, Merry Kiss Cam is a hockey movie for rom-cam fans, or maybe it’s the other way around and is a rom-com for hockey fans. Either way it’s the perfect coupling of comedy and romance in a college hockey town setting. The team in question is the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, a real team, but don’t worry you don’t need to know anything about them, just that they lose a lot.   2022

Directed by: Lisa France

Screenplay by: Maya Boudreau, Evan D. Watkins

Starring: Katie Lowes, Jesse Bradford

The meet cute occurs when Jess (Katie Lowes) walks into Danny (Jesse Bradford)’s bar. Danny’s a local boy, the golden hero in the blue-collar community, a good-looking man who took over his dad’s bar after he passed away, always remains optimistic for the Bulldogs, and gets to know his many regulars personally. At first, Jesse Bradford’s Minnesota accent sounds fake, but he quickly grows into his character.

Jess is an outsider. She’s a transplant from Indiana, knows nothing about hockey, came to Duluth through the art institute at the university, and typically doesn’t spend her time in dive bars. It’s easy to see that character in Katie Lowes, she’s awkward when she’s in the bar and around the regulars and has that fish-out-of-water quality that Danny needs to slowly break-down.

After a witty repartee between Danny and Jess, he invites her to a hockey game. Her gut reaction was to say no, because ‘why hockey?’ but she likes Danny enough to say yes. The kiss cam part of the movie quickly comes into play when the Bulldogs losing by 1 call a timeout with 40 seconds, and the in-game kiss cam finds Jess and Danny on their first date. They kiss and the Bulldogs score. And then sports fans and their superstitions find their way into Jess and Danny’s relationship for the rest of the movie.

The dialogue at the beginning carries most of the comedy. It’s sweet and funny and as their relationship grows it really is quite lovely. The opposite worlds thing with Danny being a bar owner and Jess an artist in the upscale elite art community is handled well. They both make attempts to fit in to each other’s world, and they succeed. The comedy then gives way drama as cracks in their relationship start to form – there’s the tried-and-true struggle to balance a job and a relationship, there’s also a friend stepping in only to make things worse, and there’s Jess’s inability to tell Danny about significant moments in her past. The dramatic elements work because the movie started with comedy and the two characters do grow very naturally together.

Merry Kiss Cam follows all the expected beats of a typical rom-com, but it’s a cute romance and the hockey setting adds a quirky element. I really enjoyed myself even if it does feel a bit trite at times. It is a must watch however for Minnesota peeps who are hockey and rom-com fans.

Stream it on Hulu in the US or on Crave in Canada.