The Bible is clear about the definition of love. It is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, etc. Well, the relationship between Seth Winnick (French Stewart) and Chelsea Turner (Bridgette Wilson) in LOVE STINKS doesn’t come anywhere close to a biblical model. In fact, their relationship…well, stinks. Occasionally humorous, mainly mean spirited, adeptly performed but ultimately a cheap knock-off of THE WAR OF THE ROSES, this movie shows the perils of romantic obsession and the lengths one will go through to try and overcome its pitiful fruits.
Seth is a lonely thirty-something television sitcom writer in Hollywood. He is best friends with the recently married Larry Garnett (Bill Bellamy). Larry introduces Seth to a gorgeous blond named Chelsea, a friend of his wife, Holly (Tyra Banks). Seth and Chelsea hit it off immediately, enjoying each other’s company immensely. Seth wants to immediately begin fornicating, but Chelsea tells him she won’t sleep with a man unless they have had at least three meals together. They have these meals within 24 hours, and Chelsea says they can hop in the sack if Seth agrees to forsake all other women for a committed relationship. Seth agrees, and his trouble begins.
Seth discovers that Chelsea is after his money and a commitment to marriage. If her desires aren’t satisfied, she pouts, moans and acts very possessive and obsessive. To defuse this trouble, Seth says that he will agree to live together one year, and, after one year, if he thinks they are getting along fine enough, then he will marry her. All Chelsea has to do is not bring up the idea of marriage while they are together.
Chelsea agrees to this stipulation, but after one year, Seth gets cold feet. Chelsea threatens a lawsuit and both start one-upping each other to get back at one another. The shallow stereotype of Hollywood is clearly presented, sleazy agents pass through as well as bimbos, and the only way to stop the madness involves a shooting and a shotgun Las Vegas wedding presided by an Elvis look-alike.
Stewart, who plays the dumb alien Harry on TV’s THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN, performs admirably in his leap from television to the big screen. Also, Wilson is quite convincing as a manipulative, money-grubbing she-devil. Bellamy and Banks have little screen time or character development. The story remains trite and superficial, and comedic opportunities stay within stereotypical treatments. At best, LOVE STINKS shows what can happen when biblical love isn’t introduced into a relationship, but the alternative is never adequately explored. Bellamy and Banks supposedly are the counterpoints to Stewart and Wilson, but we never see biblical love in action anywhere. To its credit, the movie does include a mention of the biblical mandate for love from Corinthians, but it is never fleshed out by any of the characters.
Everybody has either witnessed or participated in relationships gone sour, and/or relationships where control becomes an issue. Set in the world of Hollywood where vanity is as prevalent as palm trees, you have a story ripe for comedic potential. Yet, the descent into bickering and grappling for romantic correction quickly becomes monotonous here, and the result is painful to watch, not humorous.
The title of this movie is a misnomer. Love doesn’t stink. It is the lack of love that stinks – nobody ever got hurt through true love ( patience, kindness and humility. Also, while it is true that you sometimes hurt the ones you love, it is also true that love conquers all.
LOVE STINKS has no conquering, but shrewd planning to rid oneself of a troublesome pest. Although most people may be able to relate to some of the themes in this movie, its superficial treatment and mean spirit offer no hope, resulting in very dark humor indeed. This is a decidedly unromantic romantic comedy which also includes some sexual situations, obscenity and lots of examples of fear and anxiety in action.
Strong pagan worldview of a vengeful woman with a few biblical references about what love is; 47 obscenities & 17 profanities; threats of violence, threats to kill cat & shooting, briefly depicted fornication, oral sex implied & sexual humor; woman in underwear, upper male nudity & cleavage; alcohol use & drunkenness; massive amounts of obsessive behavior, breaking & entering, kidnapping, abusing the law for personal gain, lying, & scatological humor.