The premise for Smitten! sounds promising and cute: a magic spell sparks unexpected love connections. Unfortunately, what should be an expectedly sweet and cheesy rom-com, turns into an absurd and difficult to watch waste of time.
Tyler Hutton (Darren Criss), a New York fashion executive strives to break away from his disapproving and overbearing father/boss, Gordon (James Remar). He takes on an assignment to broker a deal in Milan, where he ends up getting kidnapped for ransom. Tyler and his three numbskull kidnappers, Aldo (Duccio Camerini), Bambo (Massimo De Lorenzo), and Cetto (Fabrizio Biggio), inadvertently crash at a cursed cottage in an Alpine village.
Long ago, a gypsy cast a love spell over the cottage. Anyone who awakens in that house will fall in love with the first being he lays his eyes on. This is when the movie should pick-up and get better, in this case, it just gets weird and bad…very bad.
“Anyone who awakens in that house will fall in love with the first being he lays his eyes on.”
Tyler falls for the village beauty, Rosalia (Mădălina Diana Ghenea), who persistently rebuffs his advances. That’s fine and happily anticipated. It’s the kidnappers’ love interests – well, one in particular – that snowball the film into a flaming hot mess.
The kidnappers’ love interests are an unattractive old maid, a hunky farm boy, and a cow. No that is not a typo, a grown man actually tries dating a cow. Sometimes silly concepts can turn out to be stupid-funny, this is not one of those scenarios. It is just plain stupid. Distractingly so.
Some meaning can be found in the fact that these seemingly ignorant villagers don’t judge the kidnappers for the beings they fall in love with. Everyone is accepted for who they love and all of the affairs remain innocent, which means there is no bestiality (phew!).
It is mind-boggling to know that Barry Marrow (an Academy Award winner for Rain Man) wrote and directed this preposterous movie. One also wonders if Criss simply wanted a vacation in Italy because his talents are way too good for this film. At one point it felt like a song-and-dance number was written just to showcase his skills. Sadly, even Criss’ charisma could not save Smitten!
Bottom line: There isn’t a gypsy curse strong enough to make you fall for this film.
Smitten! (2018) Written and directed by Barry Marrow. Starring Darren Criss, James Remar, Duccio Camerini, Massimo De Lorenzo, Fabrizio Biggio, and Mădălina Diana Ghenea.
2 out of 10 stars