Synopsis: When it comes to relationships, the first law of the jungle prevails: you have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding a prince! In this “smart, funny and original” (New York Post) romantic comedy from writer-director Julie Davis, newcomer Marla Schaffel “gives a delectable performance” (Movieline) as a woman on a hilarious quest for perfect love in a dating pool overflowing with toads!
Katie (Schaffel) is just your average hopeless romantic searching for the ideal man in the vast no man’s land of Los Angeles. When Katie rejects her smitten best friend Ben (Mitchell Whitfield) – and instead falls for Richard (Michael Harris), a sexy and sophisticated composer, she thinks she’s finally found the romance of her life. But Katie is about to discover that “Mr. Perfect” isn’t necessarily “Mr. Right,” and that sometimes a “frog” is really a prince in disguise!
eyelights: the intention.
eyesores: the result.
‘I Love You, Don’t Touch Me!’ is one of those movies whose title left me bewildered. What does it mean? Is the person in love but is haphephobic, afraid of being touched? Is it a love-hate thing? Is the direct result of an argument between two people? Who the heck knows…
Either way there is a hint of comic potential here.
Still, if not for the fact that it was written and directed by Julie Davis, who gave us the sparklingly funny ‘Amy’s Orgasm‘ and the relatively unconventional ‘Finding Bliss‘, I undoubtedly would have dismissed this one as just another dust bin, low budget rom-com. In the hope of finding another ‘Amy’s Orgasm’, I picked it up.
Sad to say, but, I should have left it in the discount bin.
‘I Love You, Don’t Touch Me!’ is the genuinely conventional story of Katie, a young woman who is looking for the ideal man. Still a virgin, wanting to wait for perfection before indulging in libidinous pleasures, she is the frustration of her best friend, who is in love with her, but who she only has platonic feelings towards (hence the title). One day, though, she crashes her car into the car of the man of her dreams.
Or is he? Well, we’ll soon find out…
Julie Davis goes through enough clichés to saturate anyone who’s seen a few generic romantic comedies and/or sit-coms: Katie finds the “perfect” man and (surprise, surprise!) finds out he’s not at all perfect, her best friend decides to get himself a plaything -another friend of hers- so she becomes jealous, and lo-and-behold- she wakes up to the knowledge that the perfect man isn’t necessarily a man with a “big penis and a big wallet”.
Watching it 15 years later (yet 15 years too soon), the film feels rote – and it was probably already fairly stale at the time of its release. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the writing were clever enough to circumvent these issues (of course, clever writing would likely never be mired in clichés in first place), but everything feels forced or plainly unbelievable.
For instance, the way Katie discovers that her paramour isn’t right for her is staged in such a way that you don’t really know whose house we’re in. If it’s in her house, then why is she leaving? If it’s his house, then how is she just walking around it? Did he leave the door open? If so, couldn’t he be more cautious? And if it’s his house, where the heck did that teddy bear come from?
Anyway, it’s bad enough that the acting isn’t especially good, or that the direction and editing isn’t stellar, but having to go through retreads of many other storylines was a bit of a bore. To make matters worse, Katie could be grating: her misplaced values and sense of entitlement were infuriating, and then her lack of insight/wisdom were extremely frustrating; she sometimes seemed all too clueless.
Now, I can forgive Davis for writing a first film this imperfect, because you have to start somewhere (nota bene: she had directed before, cutting her teeth on ‘Witchcraft VI’, of all things!). But a more visionary director would surely have managed to squeeze out a bit more life or freshness out of this tale. Woody Allen’s (to whom she’s often compared) early films are also imperfect, but they have a unique flavour and/or perspective that at least make up for it.
The bottom line is that ‘I Love You, Don’t Touch Me!’ is only worth seeing for die-hard Julie Davis fans, or for those who are trying to get a perspective on her oeuvre. Beyond that, it has very little to offer; it feels like a half-baked indie film that likely looked good on paper, but never truly blossomed to its full potential. Frankly, I was hoping to love this first real film by Davis. Unfortunately, it didn’t touch me in quite the way that she intended it to.
Date of viewing: March 29, 2013