On today’s episode, we look at In-Lawfully Yours, a film that was recommended by Netflix after I watched Christian Mingle. Things went so well for that particular movie, that I thought I would not be led astray.
What is In-Lawfully Yours about?
A recently divorced New Yorker moves to a small town and falls for a local pastor, who happens to be her ex’s brother-in-law.
This is Hallmark if they went all the way with the religious elements.
We see our heroine Jesse hurriedly enter a hotel where her husband Chaz (CHAZ!) is holding some sort of motivational lecture. Jesse is on a two-fold mission: catch him cheating and deliver some crummy news to him. She bursts into his hotel room and sees him in bed with his intern. Despite this crushing scene, Jesse is composed enough to relay the news that his father is in coma.
We cut to Coma Dad and his wife, Marilu Henner, in the hospital. Jesse and CHAZ enter the room to pay their respects. Marilu excuses herself, leaving the couple to discuss their troubling situation. CHAZ tells his wife that he can’t get a divorce as it’ll make his parents really sad. Understandably, Jesse reacts angrily to this request.
Three months pass and we’re dumped right into a funeral procession. Jesse and CHAZ are discussing the divorce papers. Now that dad is dead, they can finally go their separate ways. The next big step is telling Momma Marilu Henner that the relationship is over. A bit of a double whammy for a grieving widow.
They arrive at the grave site only to see Marilu being harassed by a life insurance salesman according to CHAZ. Jesse charges in, yanks the man away from Marilu, and basically pushes him into an open grave. Problem solved.
Jesse races back to the wake only to find that the “salesman” is the hot young pastor presiding over the ceremony! Womp womp. He’s not only the pastor, but he’s also the son-in-law of the deceased. He used to be married to CHAZ’s sister, but she’s dead now too.
Back at CHAZ’s parents’ house, Marilu is sad because her husband is dead, and she must now leave the house. She asks her son to give her a few weeks to pack everything up herself so that she can go through the grieving process properly. CHAZ is unhappy with this idea and wants her to move out quickly. Marilu says she can do it in two weeks with Jesse’s help. This puts a major bee in CHAZ’s bonnet, and he blurts out that they’re getting a divorce. After dropping that bomb, CHAZ unceremoniously dumps Jesse’s suitcases on the lawn and takes off.
We overhear CHAZ’s conversation with a mystery man on the phone. It seems he wants his mom out of the house so he can sell it. He drives to a local diner to hit on a waitress and tell her to spy on Jesse. Wow. This is truly a one-dimensional character.
After a disastrous coffee encounter whereby the same waitress rudely dumps two intact sugar packets into Jesse’s coffee, Jesse serendipitously comes across Pastor Ben and he offers her a ride. He manages to ruin the nice gesture by insulting her, saying that CHAZ tends to pick a “certain sort of woman.” No judgments here!
Later, Jesse tries to take Marilu’s mind off her miserable life by going “churching.” This means going to church. Jesse interrupts the sermon to question Pastor Ben’s reading of a particular verse. I think it is sort of good practice to question the Bible, but she’s shut down by the head of the church committee who doesn’t care for it.
Although the first time is an unequivocal catastrophe, Jesse goes to church again to keep Marilu happy. Jesse once again interrupts the sermon. Pastor Ben practices the art of patience and rage control.
Pastor Ben suggests to Jesse that they hold a Bible study at Marilu’s house. Marilu is slowly getting her spark back thanks to Jesse and Jesus. During the study, Marilu gets a call from her crummy son who pressures her to move out of the house ASAP. His mother isn’t taking him seriously. CHAZ’s plan to sell the house appears to be in jeopardy.
Jesse offers to take Marilu to the movies, but Marilu in all of her craftiness decides to bamboozle Jesse and Pastor Ben into a date. Jesse embarrasses Pastor Ben in front of Doris from the church committee by saying she’s not going to “put out” when he pays for the ticket. “New York City girls are trash,” thinks Doris.
The couple then goes on a romantic walk through the cemetery and talks about Pastor Ben’s dead wife. He reveals that he prays for Jesse all the time. They then pray together while holding hands. This is followed by a kiss.
However, Jesse kisses him so aggressively that he falls into a bush. He recovers by literally running out of the scene in embarrassment. This whole thing can only be described as truly weird.
The next day, after some attic packing, Jesse and Marilu go to church. (Is church every day?) Pastor Ben and Jesse sexily eyeball each other, but the moment is dampened by Doris who doesn’t approve of the harlot.
Jesse and Pastor Ben agree that Jesse should work in the church for some cash money because CHAZ has cut her off. They also agree that they should date. I foresee no problems with this arrangement.
Life is going just swell for Jesse, until CHAZ unexpectedly arrives in town. He informs Jesse and her new beau that she didn’t sign the divorce papers. Pastor Ben goes pale. He’s an infidel! CHAZ is playing the penitent man, but Jesse isn’t having it. She’s dead certain she signed the papers and is a divorcee who’s able to date whatever pastor she wants! She storms off and leaves CHAZ and Pastor Ben to begin posturing.
The next morning, Marilu asks Jesse to just talk to CHAZ. She relents and CHAZ confesses that he’s been seeing a counselor. He wants to get back together. When Jesse refuses, CHAZ lashes out by saying people like Ben don’t go for “people like you.” Ok, Jesse hasn’t really shown that she’s some sort of superwhore. Why do they keep implying this? Is it because she’s from New York??
Back at the church, Pastor Ben stares at a picture of his dead wife. Doris’s church committee enters his office to talk about the Jesse issue and how his actions reflect poorly on the church. Ben is expressionless. But that’s always how Ben is. I think his personality died when his wife did.
Later, Ben tries to hold another sermon, but he’s interrupted by CHAZ. Ben gets railroaded left and right. CHAZ asks the congregation for their prayers and then says he can’t get back with his wife because the pastor is “lusting” after her. Is this all so he can sell the house? If so, it’s a pretty convoluted plan.
The congregation erupts into shouts of gossip and anger which isn’t all that uncommon for church.
The committee tells Pastor Ben he’s out of a job. Jesse storms out of church after being slandered, shouted at, and being called “Jezebel.” Come to church, y’all!
Ben chases after his sort-of girlfriend so that he can make things right. She’s not into it right now and tells him that he needs to get over his dead wife and stop wearing his wedding ring. Jesse goes back to New York.
Marilu continues packing by herself. Dang, this poor woman lost a husband and daughter and her only living relative is a standard douchebag. Jesus does not like Marilu. Things get worse for her when a real estate agent arrives to drop the bomb that CHAZ sold the house.
Pastor Ben confronts CHAZ at the diner. A fight ensues. Doris stops the scuffle and Ben gets snitty with her. He charges away.
CHAZ heads back home to meet his angry mother. She has finally realized that her son is a dirtbag. Marilu gives him an ultimatum: he can have the house, but only if he lets Jesse go. He’s alright with that because he didn’t really want Jesse to begin with.
We get a montage of Pastor Ben removing his ring and Jesse trying to reconcile her feelings about God (?). Jesse falls asleep in a church after yelling at a statue of Jesus. The priest who runs the place puts a blanket on her and even gives her a cup of coffee when she wakes up. He’s a cool guy. She should fall in love with him. He shows more personality in two minutes than Ben has in this whole movie.
Pastor Ben holds a sermon about Jesse. He announces that he plans on quitting if the congregation doesn’t agree with his view of chasing after Jesse. Turns out his lost love is sitting smack dab in the middle of the church and raises her hand. Everyone acts surprised even though she’s been SITTING THERE THE WHOLE TIME.
Jesse proclaims her fondness for Ben, and he does the same for her. The horny member of the church committee asks if they’re going to kiss (this committee member is a little weird. He dropped some strange comments a few times in this film.)
Three years pass. Jesse and Ben have a baby. The church is full of people. Doris has a new haircut. Everyone is happy.
I’m shocked by Jesse. She didn’t absolutely suck. She had a personality that wasn’t “I need to find a man to make my worthless life have meaning.” Pastor Ben was bland, so I can’t see why Jesse would like him. I suppose she had to fall for someone that wasn’t CHAZ.
On another note, it was never really stated that Jesse became a Christian. I’m surprised they didn’t do the whole “unequally yoked*” thing that’s really common in Christian films. They were just happy for Ben to bag a live wife. (*that means being in a relationship with a non-Christian.)
And like Pastor Ben, the film was boring. Yes, there were the stakes of demolishing the house, but the movie was a bit of a slog to get through.
- This film is inspired by the story of Ruth. Basically, Ruth’s husband dies and so does her mother-in-law’s. They go through many trials until Ruth marries a guy named Boaz. Eventually, Jesus is born.
- If you watch Fresh Off the Boat, you’ll recognize the leading lady as Honey, the young wife of Laura Palmer’s dad from Twin Peaks. She’s a fun actress.
- This pastor-lady love story is far less interesting than the priest-lady story in Fleabag. Watch Fleabag.
- The question Jesse asks in the second sermon interruption is “How do you know that this is the one true religion?” A spectacular question that cannot be answered in this film about romance.
- The cereal Ben eats is either Froot Loops or knock-off brand Tootie Fruities. I’m going to guess it’s the latter.
- There was one bit that actually made me chuckle. Ben tries to slam the diner door shut in anger, but because it’s one of those doors that doesn’t allow for slamming, he has to push on it til it closes.
- There’s a common theme of male leads being BORING AS HELL in these films.