"A Bunch of Pathetic Losers"
What You Need To Know:
MAIL ORDER WIFE is funny, up to a point, because it shows that, even with the best of intentions, there is a dark, sinful side to people’s desires and character traits that cause lots of pain. Ultimately, the movie has a dark pagan worldview. The insights into human behavior don’t really lead anywhere, and all of the characters are pathetic. Thus, MAIL ORDER WIFE lacks redemptive, morally uplifting qualities. It also contains very strong foul language and strong sexual innuendo.
(PaPa, B, Ho, LLL, V, SS, N, A, D, MMM) Dark, ultimately negative pagan worldview about lonely, geeky white American males and the mail order brides from Asia they sometimes arrange, and an undeveloped biblical sense concerning the sinful incompetence and destructiveness of human beings that is only lightly implied, as well as two minor male characters seem to be homosexual lovers; about 45 mostly strong obscenities; some light comical violence and implied sadomasochism not visually shown; implied sexual slavery and implied sadomasochism, man asks wife to strip for video, talk about fornication, elderly man tries to sexually exploit potential mail order bride before marriage, talk about medical procedure so woman can’t have a baby, and miscellaneous other sexual innuendoes; upper male nudity and implied nudity where woman covers her naked breasts with her hands so nothing can be seen; alcohol use; smoking; and, very strong miscellaneous moral problems such as men seek mail order brides, sexual exploitation, wife steals husband’s things and abandons him, vandalism, uncontrollable anger, husbands of mail order bride have negative attitudes about pregnancy and babies, mother is not supportive of son, revenge, and some may be offended by portrayals of white American males and women from Asian countries.
MAIL ORDER WIFE is a parody of documentaries and a satire of white American men who buy mail order brides from Asia. The writer and director, Andrew Gurland, plays a version of himself, a real-life documentary filmmaker who gives money to a lonely, fat doorman named Adrian so that Adrian can buy a male order bride and Andrew can film their new life together. Adrian selects Lichi, a pretty Burmese woman who agrees to Adrian’s marriage proposal after a series of letters and an exchange of photographs.
Adrian turns out to be a hard taskmaster and a sadist, however, who forces Lichi to make sadomasochistic videos in his dirty basement. Lichi runs to Andrew for protection, giving Andrew a copy of one of Adrian’s sick videos for proof. Although Andrew already has a girlfriend, he sleeps with Lichi. When Lichi wants more from their relationship, Andrew refuses, so Lichi runs back to Adrian.
Andrew discovers, however, that he has developed feelings for Lichi, so he rescues her from Adrian again, and Lichi divorces Adrian so that she and Andrew can get married.
All is not marital bliss in Andrew’s new household. Andrew eventually gets into an argument with Lichi.
Months go by, and Andrew and Adrian are shocked to discover that Lichi has placed herself again in the mail order bride catalogue, under a different name. With co-operation from Adrian and his filmmaking buddy’s parents in Florida, Andrew sets a trap for Lichi in a desperate attempt to win her back, or get revenge on her.
MAIL ORDER WIFE not only is a parody of white American males, it also is a parody of the mercenary desires of Asian women who hook up with such males in order to enjoy the fruits of the greatest capitalist nation on earth. In the end, however, it is clearly the white American males, including Andrew, Adrian and Andrew’s geeky friends, who are the pathetic losers.
All of this is funny, up to a point, because it shows that, even with the best of intentions, there is a dark, sinful side to people’s desires and character traits that causes lots of pain. Eugenia Yuan is especially good as the demure, but strong and clever, Lichi whose experience with Adrian and Andrew leads her to a negative view of their manhood.
Despite the positive potentials of their movie, the filmmakers take a cynical, caustic tone that is somewhat distasteful, ultimately misanthropic and lacking in redemptive qualities. None of the characters in the movie comes off looking good or sympathetic. In fact, they are quite pathetic, and the insights into human behavior don’t really seem to lead anywhere. MAIL ORDER WIFE also contains many very strong obscenities and strong sexual innuendo, though it doesn’t contain graphic sex scenes or revealing sexual nudity. All in all, MOVIEGUIDE® cannot recommend MAIL ORDER WIFE even for adult moviegoers, not only because it is ultimately sleazy and depressing, but also because it lacks strong positive qualities to ameliorate its negative elements.