Kiss & tell


POSTED: Monday, April 13, 2009

On a dirt road lined with palm tress in Mokuleia, actors Dave Annable, Mena Suvari, Rob Schneider and Tia Carrere skid to a stop in a weathered VW Thing, jump out and scramble to a waiting helicopter. No matter how many over-the-top versions they do, the scene is equally amusing each time.

Between takes, “;Brothers and Sisters”; star Annable raises his voice an octave and lifts a quivering hand in the air while breaking into song with a line or two from “;All the Single Ladies.”; When not teasing Schneider about his radical driving, Carrere and Suvari croon part of another song. Off to the side in his custom-made chair, “;X-Men 3”; star Vinnie Jones orders Dodgers tickets online via his telephone while waiting until he's needed, providing running commentary in his typical irreverent style.

“;How many takes do these TV actors need?”; he blusters before threatening to visit Annable on the set of “;Aunties and Uncles,”; as he calls it, back in Los Angeles.

“;If Vinnie Jones shows up on the ABC lot, I'm done!”; Annable laughs. As he walks back to the car to shoot the scene again, he says to a couple of visitors, “;You can see we don't have any fun on this set.”;

The atmosphere surrounding the new movie “;You May Not Kiss the Bride,”; from the affable director dressed in shorts, to the quiet efficiency of the local crew, to the good-natured bantering between the stars in the ensemble cast, is decidedly festive.

“;We all hang out,”; Suvari (”;American Beauty,”; “;American Pie”;) says during lunch, still fresh and cheerful nine hours after her 3:30 a.m. pickup that morning. “;I've been on projects where it's not like that. We're all friends.”;

The 24-day shoot is scheduled to wrap in the coming week. This is the first feature for Hawaii Film Partners, which enjoyed success with the Discovery Kids series “;Flight 29 Down,”; also shot here. As it does with “;Lost,”; Hawaii serves as a backdrop for other locations — in this case, Tahiti and Chicago. But it's still good business for the islands. Of the 149 people on the payroll, 90 percent (including the animals!) were hired locally, and renowned waterman Brian Keaulana is coordinating all of the stunts.

“;This is a big deal product for Hawaii,”; says production manager Renee Confair Sensano. “;It's surprised a lot of us because magic just keeps happening.”;

Much of that revolves around the story. What first attracted Annable to the project was the script, which he describes as “;really funny and sweet ... a nice romantic story.”;

Producer Rann Watumull, co-founder of Hawaii Film Partners with his wife, Gina Watumull, worked with writer/director Rob Hedden to develop a movie they could shoot here. “;It's a romantic adventure comedy with a lot of humor,”; Watumull says. “;Today I ruined a scene laughing — and I know the script!”; Much of that arises from Schneider's spontaneous antics, which can send cast and crew into hysterics. “;He really lifts the bar for everyone.”;

“;You May Not Kiss the Bride,”; slated for wide theatrical release next year at a PG or PG-13 rating, already is garnering international attention. It follows the green-card-inspired marriage of a Croatian mobster's daughter (played by Katharine McPhee of “;American Idol”; fame) to an aspiring National Geographic photographer (Annable, a former stand-up comedian) currently employed as a pet photographer who owes the mobster a favor after maiming his wife's cat during a photo shoot.

The arranged marriage is the reason why he may not touch his bride. Suvari, rumored to be stealing the show with her animal print costumes and exceptional comedic skills — “;People are going to rediscover her,”; contends Watumull — plays his assistant. And the always dynamic Carrere (”;Wayne's World,”; “;True Lies”;), a cocktail waitress who gives Annable's character an ill-advised dance lesson, flees with the others from the mobster's hit man, played by Jones.

Costumed in vintage surf shorts, an insistent, tourist-only aloha shirt and black knee socks stuffed with a pack of cigarettes, Schneider plays a helicopter pilot mixed up with the eclectic group in Tahiti.

During the lunch break, a shirtless Schneider walks through the buffet line in baggy Birdwells. The Kalihi-raised Carrere, who throws pidgin into some of her hilarious, random observations, glances at Shneider's partially revealed backside and says, “;Rob's playing a plumber in his next movie!”;

Schneider grins and yanks his shorts down another inch, eliciting howls from everyone sitting around the folding table.

The exuberant mood continues throughout the day, and reflects the general attitude toward the film, which contains “;something for everybody,”; according to Watumull. “;This movie is proof that you can build things in Hawaii that can compete on an international stage.”;