A record impresario turns a swank LP listening party into a diatribe party. When he stomps on the latest record he planned to launch, Cree (Kayne Lee Harrison) also crushes the dreams of singer Erica Wilson (singer-songwriter Christina Milian stars as the thwarted recording artist). A year earlier, Erica’s boyfriend of four years did some crushing figuratively when he pulled up stakes before their wedding. (Her unused gown gets repurposed for what was supposed to be her breakout pop-music moment.)
We get that backstory when Erica and her bestie Amber (Tymberlee Hill) are sitting outside after the industry debacle and Erica hears strains of Alicia Keys’ soulfully anthemic “No One” being played by a couple of buskers. The Keys tune (the singer is a producer here) was to have been their first-dance-as-newlyweds song. Cue more ugly crying. In the routine if enjoyable “Resort to Love” (on Netflix), there’s already been a deluge of tears. There will be more amid mild laughs and live lessons in this romp about love, family and ego.
Seeing her friend slipping into a romantic and professional coma, Amber hooks her up with a gig at a fancy resort. (Amber is a social media influencer.) It takes some convincing and a teensy bit of subterfuge on Amber’s part, but Erica lands at the airport in Mauritius. She’s greeted by a solicitous, lanky jack-of-all-trades named Barrington (T.J. Power). He’s also in her band.
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From the many come-hither aerial shots of the East African island nation, it’s clear that Erica has landed in a paradise — one she quickly sees as a hell when she realizes she’ll be not just the five-star retreat’s singer but its wedding singer.
Her first wedding performance should be cause for a refund or at least a comped suite. She starts to get her groove back when on Barrington’s advice, she sings a song that makes her happy. In the montage that follows, Erica rocks a ginormous blond Afro wig, embraces her new surroundings and makes clear she will survive, as the Gloria Gaynor anthem she belts avers. But will she thrive?
When she meets Caleb, a confident, handsome guy whose military skills are called upon in that first encounter (but whose most special force might be his easy smile), we think we know the answer. Even if Erica doesn’t.
Caleb’s traveled to the island for his estranged brother’s wedding. And yeah, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or Navy SEAL to know that his little bro will turn out to be Erica’s runaway fiancé. As Jason, “Saturday Night Live’s” Jay Pharoah is called on to be the funny guy: Double takes and sly lines abound (“I did not do 48 hours of therapy for this”). However, a late scene opposite Milian demands vulnerability, and Pharoah pulls through.
Cristiani Pitts delights as Jason’s fiancée, Beverly. She’s a Black Southern belle (with drive). It’s a role that could have been treated with derision and easy laughs. When she confides in her new friend Erica that she “can smell the home she wants to make with [Jason],” it rings more touching than corny. And her bachelorette party karaoke performance holds its own in what’s become a rom-com cliché. Instead of feeling sympathy for Jason and Erica’s dilemma, there’s a chance you’ll become increasingly annoyed by their unresolved feelings and what they might mean for Beverly.
For more comic feints, there’s the imperious resort manager (Sylvaine Strike) who tries to remind Erica of her place as an employee. But this “resort” is no “White Lotus” excursion in which guest privilege is interrogated or punished. Writers Tabi Mccartney and Dana Schmalenberg penned “Resort” to traverse fantasy (island) terrain. Credit director Steven Tsuchida’s comedic chops with smoothing out the script’s routine gestures. The vast complex of pristine pools and guest rooms and their inhabitants is aspirational without much offense — or depth.
As for leads Milian and Walls, they are as ridiculously gorgeous as the location. It feels cosmically fitting that Mauritius rhymes with “delicious.”
To say that “Resort to Love” is slight would be akin to snatching a romance novel out of your closest friend’s hands while she sits reading and sipping a margarita on a beach. Why would you do that? It’s summer. Leave the girl her pleasures.
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