Playing It Cool
Directed by Justin Reardon
Starring Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Topher Grace, Luke Wilson, Ioan Gruffudd
Korea passes for Japan, and Malaysia is to be only talked about for the supposed size — or lack of it — of the vital parts of its women.
‘Playing It Cool’ clearly isn’t making a play for East Asia. Rest all is game.
Including Love In The Time Of Cholera — left about by one of the main characters as part of his “art”, for others to read and enjoy — in the cause of a rom-com that reduces the novel to few men and a boat. Including rom-coms, the writing of which purportedly forms the script of this film, and the making of which thankfully is omitted. Including parents, who do unfortunate things as fall in love or die, leaving their children destitute. And including a brand of cereals, which a child thus forsaken by his mother can never dip his hand into again (he still has a box of the same in his closet well into adulthood though, leaving you with no pleasant thoughts).
That aforesaid forsaken child is ‘He’ — yes he who shall not be named — played by the otherwise charming Evans. If that’s not conceited enough, He address the audience as narrator with wisecracks that go along lines such as “It’s late. But is it too late?”. That’s to “Her” (Monaghan), for arriving at her doorstep past midnight. If he is ‘He’, she is just ‘Her’ — and no, there is no irony there either.
The two cross paths, and hands, over the course of a charity dinner. And then charity becomes their thing, again with no sense of irony at all. Amazon frogs, rhesus monkeys, anything will do as He courts Her.
The film’s point of conflict is that while He is a writer currently hired to write a script for a rom-com, He doesn’t believe in love. Her is not so decided on the matter, though We obviously know where It is headed.
But before that, He has to engage his group of struggling writers (including Grace and Wilson) in conversations about love. These mostly involve their recounting stories, and He imagining himself and Her romancing in different situations. It’s funny at first, irritating at the end.
Evans tries hard, but there are too many limp lines for him to lift, not to mention his ‘Heart’ that follows him around in a Humphrey Bogart-hat and cloud of cigarette smoke. Monaghan has a better time of it, but her character is so unsure and undecided including about her fiance (Ioan Gruffudd), that it’s difficult to see where Her is coming from.
Now if only the subtle Grace with his subtler mocking touch, reduced for long to sidekick roles, had been the guy teaching us a thing or two about love. Leaving the cholera alone.