A fantastically likable romantic comedy with fresh and engaging characters, empathy and sympathy for both the guy and the girl, a huge dose of sexual sprinkles but it does become flat not running free from the genre I hoped it would have broken the mould for.
During 2003, a chance encounter happens between Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Elaine/Lainey (Alison Brie). Shifting into present day, they happen to meet again, realising their lives are kind of similar in their lack of being able to settle down. Jake is a womaniser and Lainey is a cheater, through each other they learn a thing or two and develop that undeniable attraction from the first time they met.
Let me start with the writing, which is served up by Leslye Headland. She brings something much better than her play/film ‘Bachelorette’, crikey I seriously disliked that film. Everything that was so wrong in that 2012 flick is rectified here, with characters you can understand and like, scenarios that are believable and a running theme of being smart. The writing here might not be exactly on the clever tracks of screenplays but it’s going the right way, the dialogue can be very sharp and snappy, the changes out of comedy hit well in the emotional zone and it goes a good way a lot of the time in trying to do something different with the rom-com shtick.
Sadly that statement can’t be 100% guaranteed as a fair portion of this movie suffers by following the romantic comedy rule book. There’s a certain scene and action where it leaves you wanting the attraction to happen and it goes away from there. This brilliance should have been the end or a set up for another similar ending but without spoiling proceedings, you know from the film that it’s going to finish up as you’d expect, not as you’d wish just as you always knew it would. I was hugely hoping the great characters and moments would be enveloped by a similar breaking of the genre but they don’t get that joy.
The direction from Headland is smooth and comes with cool little quirks, the social media aspect is a trend we’ve seen and can expect to see for a long time now, but having the texts appear on screen doesn’t feel cliched here and one message thread is delivered on screen by the sender which is both funny and original. There’s degrees of slow motion, which aren’t Michael Bayed, they come sparingly and add a dramatic tinge to that slowed action. It’s a fast flowing movie and the neat shots of New York add to that rush of struggling romance. It also helps that I’m writing this review from the Big Apple and saw places in the film that I’ve now seen for real and one scene was shot on the street I’m staying at! I’m going off on a tangent, sorry, but yes, the city aspect is shot very well and feels very right for this story.
Alison Brie is a dynamic actress, she shows she can do comedy and the cutie pie routine in most of the films/TV roles she’s done but here she adds weight in some pretty emotive scenes. They come like firecrackers of despair after comedic moments that shoot fast and long. One of the break-ups is done in a funny way but she follows that with a pang of brutal self loathing that Brie truly makes feel real. Jason Sudeikis is an actor that hits or misses, I get his typical act but sometimes it feels too smarmy, here though it’s present but not annoying, he’s likable and you can see his stuttering when it comes to his thoughts on Lainey. The pair of them are charismatic and you do buy into their blossoming best friend journey. Also, great kudos to Andrea Savage and Jason Mantzoukas who bring some of the best lines to the movie and work brilliantly well as the married couple still down with being hip or at least wanting to be.
It may not be constantly funny or even genuinely sad all the way through, it also lacks a great premise to fully shatter the rom-com guidelines. Though even saying/writing this film is a delightful watch, it makes you smile and comes with charming performances helping the movie feel sexy, touching and enjoyable.