I can’t endorse Paradise Cove, but I also wouldn’t stop you from watching this trashy thriller about a homeless former model terrorizing a couple of homeowners who are new to the neighbourhood. Before the film becomes unforgivably dumb, it’s a shameless guilty pleasure.
After the passing of his mother and inheriting her Malibu beach house, Knox (Todd Grinnell of TV’s One Day at a Time) and his partner Tracey (American Pie’s Mena Suvari) intend on flipping the house. It isn’t long until Knox discovers Bree (Kristin Bauer van Straten aka. Man Hands from that Seinfeld episode), a squatter living underneath the new pad. And, it takes even less time to discover Bree’s security within the community. Her earlier modelling days have made her popular with neighbours, and no one wants to see her struggle. However, this has given Bree her own sense of carte blanche; feeling practically untouchable as she intimidates Tracey, flirts with Knox, and frames them for various crimes.
Sherry Klein’s script is a waffling mess, as is Martin Guigui’s direction. Before Paradise Cove commits to its camp, there’s a suggestion that the film wants to address a rising homeless epidemic. A glaring issue that should be inviting more compassion into the conversation rather than elitism, but not necessarily a discussion I want in a movie about a grimacing, homeless seductress stabbing people.
But, is Paradise Cove fun nonsense? You betcha. Grinnell, a charismatic and funny actor on One Day at a Time, makes the best out of this silly material (which also involves some underdeveloped sexual tension between him and Bree, and an unnecessary infertility subplot), as does Suvari. And, it’s wacky to watch career characters drop their professionalism at the drop of a hat (a frustrated social worker saying “peace out” was a hoot). But the film’s wacky tone truly is driven by Kristin Bauer van Straten’s over-the-top performance. Her scenery chewing eventually, somewhat, redeems the movie and convinces the filmmakers to embrace the junkier qualities of this lightweight entertainment and temporarily abandon its unqualified and sanctimonious messaging.
So, again, I repeat: I can’t recommend Paradise Cove, but I had lots of laughs. Do what you will with that information.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie