[Contains skinny-dipping, whale-saving SPOILERS!!!]
Arjun Sablok, the writer-director responsible for the Canadian Bollywood flick Neal ‘n’ Nikki (2005), seems to have trouble telling the difference between being “naughty” and “noxious”. This is one of those rare rom-coms where the leads are destined to be together solely because they’re too repellent to deserve anyone else… like two flea-ridden rats, whose tails fuse together to form an immutable bond. Feh.
Neal is a jerk-off jock who agrees to an arranged marriage to a gorgeous Indian girl named “Sweety”, then decides to spend his last few weeks of freedom “bingeing” on as much “easy action” as he can find in the original Sin City… Vancouver! The scene where Neal announces this repulsive plan (to his encouraging father, rather than his marriage-hating d-bag buddies) is a perfect microcosm of the movie as a whole… desperately trying to be raunchy in a throwback 80s-sort-of-way, but undermined by an inherent lameness and tameness. I mean, what is the point of a “sex comedy” that barely even warrants a PG-13 rating for its fully-clothed, clean-mouthed dry-humping? I’ve seen racier episodes of Friends! In place of sex, all you really get is regressive sexism (“Women be crazy! Men be horny!”), and sociopathic scheming. As I suggested earlier, Nikki isn’t an innocent lamb led astray by the kind of man who would proudly refer to himself in the definitive third person (i.e., “The Neal”)… no, she’s a petty, manipulative maniac, who (later in the movie) uses the numbskull as an unwitting prop to make her cheating ex-boyfriend jealous, so he’ll want to get back together with her… just so she can validate her own hotness before re-dumping him with a swift knee to the nutsack! And this is a woman we’re supposed to want to see live happily ever after? Oy vey!
The couple’s meet-cute (more of a “meet-ugly” really) occurs at a nightclub, where Neal is supposed to be waiting for a smokin’ hot swimsuit model he picked up in a taxi, earlier in the day. Unfortunately he’s made the classic mistake of inadvertently dressing exactly like the club’s waiters, so he’s accosted by a drunken Nikki, who believes that he’s hiding a corkscrew in his trouser pockets, and enthusiastically sets about finding it. In theory she’s working for the club herself, but when the boss sees her necking a bottle of wine behind the bar, he promptly fires her, and she just shrugs it off with a super-mature “You can’t fire me, ‘cuz I quit!” Mmmkay. After an energetic song and dance number, during which she successfully woos Neal while his date strolls off with some random sleaze (who actually uses the phrase “Let’s bounce!” before departing), she invites him to go home with her. But he can’t find a cab on the street, so instead he carries the drowsy damsel to a nearby no-tell-hotel, where he chivalrously books their cheapest room for half an hour. What a charmer!
I know I should have turned the DVD off at that point, but my morbid curiosity had kicked in, and I found myself unable to look away from the awfulness. And, I swear, I’ve only scratched the surface here… there’s so much more I could rant about! The only time I laughed over the course of the entire 105-minutes was when Sablok tried to “get serious”, and suggest that his execrable creations had actual human feelings, by slathering the soundtrack with cheesy ballads… such as when Neal carries Nikki home drunk for the *second* time, and a sad song about how lonely she is comes on (the lyrics to which were literally just the words “She’s so lonely… so lonely…” over and over again). Meanwhile, I was fascinated by the way the movie’s dated styling and generic presentation managed to negate the natural attractiveness of the supporting actresses employed here (including Serinda Swan of Graceland and Percy Jackson fame!). I was honestly a little shocked to discover that this misbegotten turd only came out in 2005, because it really looks like something pooped out of a timewarp from the last century… or some terrifying alternate universe, where Benny Hill transferred his consciousness into a robot body, and became the Global Director General of Motion Pictures.
On the upside, I thought the actress playing Nikki (Tanisha Mukherjee), was very cute and charismatic, in an Audrey-Tautou-sort-of-way, and I‘d love to see her using her potentially-adorable-ditziness for good, rather than evil. Other than that, this movie’s got nothing to offer anyone but the most masochistic hate-watchers.