The definition of 'decoy' - "a person or thing used to lead someone into danger". Very fitting, given that The Decoy Bride falsely masquerades as a comedy and leads viewers into danger... of losing their sanity and will to live.
The classic 'man struggles to choose between two women' scenario unfolds as David Tennant's author James Arber, who fluctuates uncomfortably between sleazy cad and sympathetic romantic depending on the scene, prepares to marry dullard American film star Lara Tyler (Alice Eve).
Fearing that caricature slimeball paparazzo Marco Ballani will nab a pic, they bafflingly decide to relocate their ceremony to the remote Scottish island of Hegg. On the island lurks terminal singleton Katie (Kelly Macdonald), who has not had much luck with men in her life. We know this because other characters frequently state it. Over and over again.
In case we haven't quite grasped that she is UNLUCKY IN LOVE - and it's a miracle those words weren't daubed over the character's forehead in red lipstick - she spurts out such tedium as "I've gone man-vegan. After the first six years you don't miss them anymore". There goes another rib.
Yet that remark is the epitome of comedy sophistication compared to some of the other one-liners on display. Perhaps the nadir comes with Lara's American PA Steve quipping, "I'm so full of s**t my last colonic took a week". Crikey. A seven-day irrigation treatment of the bowels would at least be preferable to watching The Decoy Bride, though.
Could James be falling for the local girl over his mega famous fiancée? The fact that they are cut together in a montage while bashing away at their respective keyboards in different location kind of gives it away if you had yet to figure things out.
Barely - and mercifully - scraping in at a meager 80 minutes before the credits roll, this sorry tale doesn't raise so much as a mild titter. One can't help but feel sorry for the talented leads. The former Time Lord Tennant is no stranger to procuring tears from viewers, as exemplified by his masterfully emotive demise in 'The End Of Time: Part Two', but on this occasion the tears we shed are out of pity, not pathos.
The squandering of Tennant and Macdonald is criminal, as their effortless natural appeal suggests they could be a rom-com couple to contend with if only their material was half decent. It could barely be worse, even if they featured in the next Big Momma movie.
It's also disheartening to find out that Phillips, who is a talented comedienne and forever lodged in our hearts for looking into Alan Partridge's Travel Tavern porn drawer, co-wrote this mess.
The dialogue makes even the pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre look like a beacon of inspiration in comparison. Just witness this attempted bit of verbal amusement in the opening minutes: "We can get married in outer space," jokes James after his first wedding attempt is sabotaged. "Outer space? I don't think you can yet," Emma says to her PA boss in deadly serious tones. Say no more.
The best director in the world, past or present, would have been unable to salvage this. Yet Sheree Folkson manages to compound the misery with some awkward cuts and jarring camera angles that provide an alienation effect that even Bertolt Brecht would disown.
Ill-conceived and woefully executed, The Decoy Bride is an example of how not to write a rom-com and waste an accomplished cast in the process. The harsh criticisms throughout this review barely scratch the surface of what is wrong. Avoid, for the sake of your health.