Time: 98 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
SYNOPSIS: A famous children's book writer, Greg Rawlings, known to the world as the loving Uncle Bumps, is forced to mend his alcoholic, bachelor ways when he meets his new illustrator Martha, a straitlaced, small-town teacher. In a desperate effort to keep his lifestyle and identity a secret, Greg and his publisher devise a heartwrenching scheme, involving a young orhpan boy posing as his wayward son to gain her sympathy and re-enlist her participation in the new book. When Martha discovers the truth, Greg must decide how much of his life he's going to give up to get Martha back into it.
BOTTOM LINE: Allyson and Johnson generate true affection in this romantic comedy that delivers more laughs than burning desire, but still gets the juices flowing. If you only fight with the ones you love, then their characters are definitely on the road to happily ever after. In their first scenes together, he tries to pick her up, which offends her, and then proceeds to get her rip-roaring drunk, which shocks her even more and tickled my funnybone mightily. I have no idea if Allyson ever imbibed in real life, but her drunk act, where she literally lets her hair down, is a real doozy. It's their easy intimacy in this sequence that shows how perfect they are for one another, even though it takes another hour for them to realize it.
The whole orphan subplot that has Johnson pretending to be an overworked father with an uncontrollable son is more entertaining than I though it would be, mostly because the kid who plays Danny (Jenkins) is a real pain in the ass. That both "father" and "son" find themselves reformed by the love and attention of a good woman is not a surprise, but they sure do put up a clever and fun-filled fight in an effort to avoid permanent family ties. Unfortunately for Allyson, she has to play the straight man in this ensemble and does a perfect job towing the line between optimistic and offended. It's her clarity of character that keeps the wackiness of the men's machinations from sinking the ship.
The film goes a little overboard at times with the physical comedy, especially in the case of Danny's obsession with his pet ants, which have almost more screen time than Arlene Dahl, who plays Greg's ex-true love Tilly. Her presence sparks jealousy in Martha and weariness in Greg, who realizes there's more to love than just a pretty face. Their utter lack of chemistry helps to make his tumultuous relationship with Martha seem positively passionate, despite it's G-rated nature. In the case of this film, the romance is merely a means to an end that being a happy family life for all. While BRIDE has clever dialogue, fairly well-developed characters and a decent plot, the fact that Allyson and Johnson come off more as friends than lovers almost unravels the whole enterprise. Their energy and enthusiam make the experience enjoyable, just not a classic.