Movie date: Playing It Cool
Guys and girls just can’t say no to Captain America in rom-com mode.
STARRING: Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Anthony Mackie, Luke Wilson
DIRECTOR: Justin Reardon
THE SKINNY: A screenwriter (Evans) is tasked to write a romantic comedy. Disillusioned by love, he tries finding inspiration from friends’ advice until he meets the woman of his dreams (Monaghan). The catch? She’s spoken for. Undeterred, our hero pursues her, even though she’s only keen on a platonic relationship.
THE CONSENSUS: Guys and girls just can’t say no to Captain America in rom-com mode.
While watching Playing It Cool, it might occur to you that the team behind it isn't particularly seasoned.
Director Reardon has only done a short film from 2010 called Zoltan: The Hungarian Gangster Of Love.
The writing team, Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair, have only one other writing credit, a 2014 indie flick called Before We Go.
Oddly enough, or maybe it's not odd at all, Evans directed and starred in Before We Go.
The reason I bring all this up is that the callowness of the main creatives is evident in every frame.
Just for starters, Hollywood movies about Hollywood screenwriters are generally lamentable, unless they are bitingly satirical.
This one isn't - no one cares about your problems as young screenwriters, guys.
Also, the film is completely lacking in self-awareness.
No one seems to know that these anti-rom-com rom-coms have already been done a lot, and done a lot better.
All that said, I ended up sort of enjoying Playing It Cool in spite of the fact that it's not cool at all.
It's stale and trite, but the LA setting is quite nicely captured and the leads are easy on the eyes.
For all my sour grapes, I'm rather envious of these clueless characters, and the clueless characters behind them.
The youth! It burns!
Evans is anatomically blessed to be a rom-com leading man, with a winning personality to complete the package.
Monaghan, too, is genetically qualified to be a leading lady.
Together, they make a gorgeous couple who are a perfect match in rom-com heaven.
But the movie doesn't capitalise on its charismatic leads.
Rom-coms work best if the chemistry between the leads is electric.
Sparks fly, literally, when boy meets girl here.
Yet, it doesn't sustain over the entire movie.
Evans seems to get along better with his mates, Grace in particular. The moments between Mackie and Evans are fun too, probably because we've seen them together on Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
One can fault Reardon for the one too many "fantasy" montages - there's a ridiculous sequence that puts Evans in a Korean period costume - which cause the already unevenly-paced film to drag even further.
Evans has done better rom-coms such as The Nanny Diaries (2007) and What's Your Number? (2011) so he's not new to this genre.
Perhaps he's become so much of an action hero that he's lost his romantic touch.
But at the end of the day, Evans and his baby blue eyes make it easy to sit through it all.