John Rhys-Davies stars as an angry, belligerent Cupid in the aptly titled Bad Cupid, a sweet-natured romantic comedy with a heart as big as it is honest. There’s a tendency in smaller indies to cast well-known actors in small roles to gin up interest, but that isn’t the case here. The selling point is Rhys-Davies spouting a blend of curse words and wisdom about love, and those pleasures are delivered alongside a decent love story and real laughs.
Dave (Shane Nepveu) is dumped by his long-term girlfriend, Denise (Christin Turturro). A year later, he’s still pining for her and desperate to find a way back into her arms much to the chagrin of his loud, cynical cousin Stella (Amelia Sorensen). Stella tries to introduce Dave to new women to no avail; Dave won’t get over Denise, which becomes an even bigger problem when he finds out that, only a year after their break-up, Denise is getting married. In turn, that spirals into an even larger problem when Archie — aka Cupid — shows up and kidnaps Denise’s fiancé, Henry, to teach Dave a lesson about love and obsession. If Dave’s so willing to anything to get Denise back against her clearly stated disinterested in him, if he’s willing to throw his life away pining for her, what are the limits of his devotion?
Cupid is tired of a millennium of listening to humans waste time with unrequited loves. He’s tired of them treating each other poorly. It’s a rough job, constantly being invoked by those like Dave who clearly need to move on with their lives. Cupid describes Dave as “demented, obsessive, possessive,” and he’s not wrong. The old spirit has had it, and Rhys-Davies is hysterical in conveying a man at the edge of his rope, barely engaged with his sacred mythological duty. He’s well matched by Nepveu and Sorensen, who really hold the film together during the first act.
Although the comedy ultimately pays off the idea of romantic love (it’s a comedy after all!), it offers a thoughtful take on the way that type of love is frequently depicted as an act of obsession rather than empathy and communication. The humor comes from recognizing the storytelling tropes it skewers through Cupid’s frustrations. For a movie that advertises itself as turning a wholesome deity into a sailor-mouthed grump, it has a really good heart.