The Right Kind of Wrong has a backstory which fascinates and delights. The right book came along, one that producer Robert Lantos held on to for a while, and was just waiting for the right kind of moment to unleash. The book in question was Sex & Sunsets, a 1987 Tim Sandlin story about a man that meets his ideal mate on her, (but not his) wedding day.
The Right Kind of Wrong features the book of Sex & Sunsets in the movie, as having been written by its lead character, played by Aussie heartthrob Ryan Kwanten, and perversely, being a bit of a failure, (though Leo Palomino, as well as the book, is redeemed at the end). The successful author is Leo’s ex-wife Julie, who has written a wildly popular blog Why You Suck about the failed but kind-hearted Leo, and is in the process of having the blog adapted into a book.
So it is through this prism that Leo begins a new quest, to capture the heart of Colette, which seems slightly complicated by the whole ‘just having gotten married’ business. But Leo is dogged in his pursuit, and in the hands of a less charming lead, the film may have taken on a less noble quality. But in the lead role, Kwanten is too likeable as to stay on the side of right, rather than wrong. In fact, I compared Palomino’s quest to that of Don Quixote, and Kwanten seemed to agree: “I thought he was such a breath of fresh air…in his unabashed seeking of this woman, and bunting societal conventions…here was a guy who was…doing anything but that…he was living the impossible dream.” It helps that Kwanten’s co-star Sara Canning is such a worthy pursuit as Colette, and it is clear from talking with her how Canning is so canny as to inspire such an impossible dream as Leo’s.
A welcome presence in The Right Kind of Wrong is Colette’s mother, played by Catherine O’Hara, Queen of Comedy. The actress is quick to note that her character of Tess does not appear in the book, calling herself a “device” and indeed, O’Hara is not featured prominently in the movie, but stays long enough to encourage Kwanten on his quest, like a bizarre Sancho Panza, bring her own clothing into the film for her character, and to inspire Colette to undergo her own narrative arc of redemption. “She says and does the most inappropriate things, and somehow, it’s the right kind of wrong”, O’Hara shared.
The film has some rogue elements not found in the book, including a pair of precocious children, and a subplot involving Palomino’s friend Neil, played by Will Sasso, that do seem to advance the heart of the story. But that heart, the right kind of impossible romance for which we cannot help but root, helps make Chechik’s vision of a “cynicism-free” film come into focus.