Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Want to Marry Ryan Banks (2004) - Sweet, Romantic Story

I Want to Marry Ryan Banks poster Reality of Love
"I Want to Marry Ryan Banks" later became "Reality of Love."

I became a huge fan of Emma Caulfield during her all-too-brief stint on "Beverly Hills 90210." She played Jason Priestley's girlfriend during the mid-1990s, before 90210 went into terminal decline. When she disappeared from the show without a lot of explanation, I was sad, and basically stopped watching. She had a bright, vibrant energy in the role that was memorable. Emma went on to join "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and since has done other TV and web work, and I catch her appearances when I can. I admit it, I'm a huge fan.

I Want to Marry Ryan Banks poster
This was the original promotional poster.

So, when I saw this re-pairing of Emma and Priestley in a romantic cable TV movie named "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks," I decided to give it a shot. It did not disappoint me. While it is the usual TV movie fluff, "Banks" has likable stars and an inoffensive plot. It pretends to show actual "real life" romantic complications behind the scenes of a reality show like "The Bachelor." Priestley stars as a young Hollywood star whose career is in trouble and must star in such a show in order to rejuvenate his career. Caulfield is one of his choices and an obvious top candidate from the moment of her introduction.

I Want to Marry Ryan Banks Emma Caulfield Jason Priestley
Jason Priestley and Emma Caulfield always have good chemistry together onscreen.

The way the Caulfield character is portrayed is a little too good to be true (she is entered for the show by someone else because she is too good to ever do it herself, etc.). Echoing her "integrity" thing from 90210, she is very much the "good girl" here, perhaps a little too good to be believable (supermodels never go to their first tryout where they're discovered for themselves, but just to accompany a friend, you know how it is). Priestley's character, on the other hand, is made a little too dim to be believable in order to make the underlying conflict a little more blunt. Note, though, that Priestley's character is dim only around the Caulfield character at times, but pretty clever otherwise, and it is he who engineers the perfect ending.

I Want to Marry Ryan Banks Bradley Cooper Emma Caulfield

No reason to give too many details away, suffice to say that Priestley's best friend/manager, played by Bradley Cooper, is the real lady's man of the two and the brains behind the whole operation (incidentally, Cooper's character is named Todd Doherty... ring any bells?). You can figure out the entire plot from those few details without straining too hard. The plot actually borrows a bit from an event that actually happened on the MTV "Real World" reality show, when a producer reportedly got involved with a participant. However, that unintentional "real life" situation did not have anything like the happy ending shown here. The ending here, in fact, is a bit of a cop-out in my opinion, but shows the only possible outcome where nobody could get hurt or terribly embarrassed.

I Want to Marry Ryan Banks Jason Priestley Bradley Cooper
Jason Priestley and Bradley Cooper.

I'd like to think that Priestley remembered the same chemistry with Emma that I did when putting this film together, but then, Emma has great chemistry with everybody. While Jason is not at the top of his game here, it still is good to see him back at work after his tribulations of recent years. Cameron Bancroft also is around as part of the "90210" reunion. Incidentally, this was re-released in 2012 as "Reality of Love" to Redbox machines after Bradley Cooper became a huge star in "The Hangover," "Alias" and other projects.

Sweet, likable fluff, recommended for hopeless romantics and fans of the stars.


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