For some reason, the rom-com genre for me has always been a major source of comfort food, and Lionsgate charmer The Honeymoon comes along at the perfect time of year to bring all the feels! This raunchy R-rated romp poses a horrifying question: what if one’s childhood bestie decided to tag along on their honeymoon? One would hesitate to imagine even their closest friend joining on such a momentous occasion, let alone one that is as bumbling and irritating as The Honeymoon’s Bav. Pretty much anything that can go wrong does, causing what should be the happiest time to be blown disastrously to cocaine-addled smithereens. Get ready for a wacky Italian adventure that left me cringing and laughing in equal measure…
As The Honeymoon opens, we immediately get a grasp on the type of friendship that exists between insufferable best man Bav (Asim Chaudhry, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Wonder Woman 1984) and the adorable groom Adam (Pico Alexander, Summer Days, Summer Nights, Home Again). Bav is considerably more nervous than Adam, freaking out that he will mess something up—and that’s exactly what he does. Between accidentally dropping the wedding ring into the water in the middle of the ceremony to completely bombing the best man speech, it’s no wonder why blushing bride Sarah (Maria Bakalova, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) is no fan of Bav.
Adam and Bav dub themselves “the inseparables”—since Adam’s move from the UK to America when they were teenagers, the two still stayed in touch, but Bav has never let this abandonment go unnoticed. Their bond has maintained through the years, even though Bav has an obvious pattern of messiness. The timing for Bav’s firing from work could not be worse; as Adam and Sarah prepare to leave for a picturesque honeymoon, Adam gets a call, and suspects that Bav may be suicidal. Against his better judgment and the obvious annoyance of Sarah, Adam extends an invitation for Bav to accompany them in Venice, Italy.
Why either of them would expect Bav’s behavior to have improved in a new country is anybody’s guess. Sporting a “See You Next Tuesday” shirt and trying to force himself into every waking moment of the newlywed couple’s private time, Bav has clearly not changed, nor does he plan to. One expects the young couple to reach a breaking point very early on. The cringe-comedy is mostly courtesy of Bav, who seems to grow more tiresome after every appearance. I have no doubt a certain subset of viewers will take issue with Bav’s persona; he is definitely annoying, but I think that’s kind of the point. Asim Chaudhry chews up the scenery with his memorable accent and sassy remarks. Like it or not, Adam is stuck with Bav for life.
The plot really takes off when Bav accidentally befriends a handsome Italian drug lord named Giorgio (Lucas Bravo, Emily in Paris, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Ticket to Paradise). The trio end up at Giorgio’s sprawling home, wherein Bav causes a cavalcade of new issues. Giorgio appears to be a hopeless romantic, so he uses the situation to his advantage. He holds Sarah as collateral, tasking Adam and Bav to travel together to Slovenia on a drug-running trip. As with the honeymoon itself, Adam and Bav’s journey is filled with colorful misadventures, trashy hotel rooms, coke baths, and lots of spitting.
What made The Honeymoon so charming for me is that it never takes itself too seriously, nor does it devolve into full-blown slapstick. In fact, the film itself feels straight from a bygone era of romantic comedies. They just don’t make them like this anymore! Along the way, writer/director Dean Craig manages to subvert expectations multiple times. Instead of a wifely caricature, art-loving Sarah is textured and faithful, played wonderfully by standout Maria Bakalova. Opposite her, Pico Alexander is also quite good as Adam. Adam and Bav’s friendship is at the core of the story, but I was still never won over by Bav before the film ended. When he eventually gets put in his place, I wanted to stand up and cheer. Despite a few caveats, The Honeymoon is a hugely entertaining rom-com with its heart squarely in the right place.
Try not to crash The Honeymoon when it premieres in select theaters and to Video on Demand on Friday, December 16th.