Tragically, Henry LeFay (Tim Allen) has died on vacation somewhere in a parasailing accident. His baby girl Barbie (Elisha Cuthbert) is crushed because the last words she said to her father was something along the lines of ‘I hate you asshole!’… something along those lines. Now Barbie has to go back to her small home town somewhere in New York State to assist in settling her old man’s affairs. ‘Affair’ being the operative word since Henry has left behind four ex-wives, one current wife and one annulled wife as the madcap zaniness that is ‘The Six Wives of Henry LeFay’ begins it’s madcap zany journey down the lane of theoretical comedy.
First, via one helluva long flashback, we need to find out why Barbie had such harsh final words with her old man who lured her away from her San Francisco home and her boyfriend Lloyd (Eric Christian Olsen), whom she refuses to marry no matter how much he begs. It seems Henry is a philandering jerkoff asshole… and those are his good points… who uses his lovely daughter to bail himself out of whatever situation he happens to be trapped in. This time he wants Barbie to assist him in ridding himself of his current wife Autumn (Lindsay Sloane) which invariably leads to Barbie ultimately giving Henry the business. We also meet the other ex-wives during this ultra long flashback which includes Barbie’s sweet mother Kate (Andie MacDowell), Henry’s business partner Veronica (Paz Vega) who is also a fiery Hispanic senorita, as if there’s any other kind of Hispanic female in movies. Also we meet fiery Anglo Ophelia (Jenna Elfman) who is so fiery that Henry had to marry her twice, and finally Henry’s planned next wife Sarah Jane (Jenna Dewan) who Barbie used to babysit back in the day.
Cool, with the flashback over its time for the funeral in which the mayhem and hinjinx kick into high gear and also introduces an unknown wife in Effa (S. Epatha Merkerson) who actually doesn’t want anything from Henry’s estate, outside of wishing Henry’s mother Mae (Barbara Barrie) would stop asking her to clean up around the place. You see the old girl thinks she’s the maid because she’s Black and stuff.
Now if you thought it was mayhemic and hijinky before
(neither of which are actual real words), grab hold of
your La-Z-Boy because it’s about to get nuts up in here.
The question is, once the insanity subsides, is will
Barbie learn to appreciate her late father and finally,
will she learn to open up her heart to the glorious
possibilities of love? Will you even care or will you be
pondering the biological feasibility of the lovely Andie
McDowell and Tim Allen giving birth to someone who looks
like Elisha Cuthbert? The genetics don't work for
me on that one.
In a word ‘The Six Wives of Henry LeFay’ was inert entertainment, but at least it was entertainment. I mean I didn’t think it was a terrible movie and I did like it more than the last Tim Allen joint I saw ‘Crazy on the Outside’ but like so many recent movies, from the low to the big budget, this one just doesn’t do anything in particular to separate itself from the pack. Lack of talent certainly isn’t an issue, particularly of the estrogen based variety with Jenna Elfman, Andie MacDowell and Paz Vega highlighting, and while I’m sure S. Epatha Merkerson is grateful to have been playing Lt. Anita Van Buren on ‘Law and Order’ for the last twenty years she has to be thankful for the chance to do something else for a change. The problem, at least as I see it, is because of all of these characters, and all of these characters different situations, everything in this movie is sketchy and just kind of glossed over without a lot of time invested in learning anything about these characters, outside of the basics to insure plenty of mayhemic zaniness. Ophelia is crazy, Kate is sweet, Veronica has an accent, Sarah Jane is slutty and Effa is Black. Need more character development than that then watch another movie. And not that I’m saying anything but another thing that might’ve helped this movie a tiny bit is maybe switching up Jenna Dewan and Elisha Cuthbert. For one Dewan looks more like she could actually be Andie MacDowell’s biological daughter but more importantly she’s a more emotive actress than Elisha Cuthbert and there was a lot of emoting required for this particular role and Ms. Cuthbert’s acting style of cold rigid detachment, as beautiful as she is, just didn’t work out all that well in this flick.
But the movie did have a couple of big laughs. Henry LeFay’s ‘I Have a Dream’ television ad was hilariously inappropriate in addition to a couple of other funny moments spliced in, which did make this movie consistently amusing if not an outright gut buster.
One last thing and this is a SPOILER… kind of… because I think we all know within about ten minutes of this movie starting that Henry isn’t really dead. In fact I was thinking a real twist would’ve been if Henry was really dead but I did like the way that writer / Director Howard Michael Gould cleverly handled the circumstances surrounding Henry not being dead. Pleasantly surprised.
I know it’s not a real compliment but there are worst movies out there than ‘The Six Wives of Henry LeFay’. If you’re looking for some sketchy, wacky, zany comedy that works sometimes and features some really hot well known actresses who keep their clothes on all the time, here it is.