Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Topher Grace, Ioan Gruffudd, Aubrey Plaza, Martin Starr, Philip Baker Hall, Luke Wilson, Anthony Mackie, Patrick Warburton, Mathew J. Morrison, Ashley Tisdale, Beverly D’Angelo, Shelly Slocum
Written by: Chris Shafer, Paul Vicknair
Directed by: Justin Reardon
MPAA Rating: R for language and sexual content
Running Time: 94
Date: 05/08/2015

Playing It Cool (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Romcom Bomb

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Playing It Cool seems to be an attempt to go "meta" on the romantic comedy genre, with a screenwriter and all his writer friends talking about all the genre's shopworn twists and turns as the movie goes along. But the problem is that the movie actually uses the old shopworn twists and turns, straight-faced, without irony. The idea seems to be that true love trumps all screenwriting conventions, but while the chemistry between stars Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan is friendly and easygoing, it hardly seems adoring or burning or passionate.

An unnamed narrator (Evans) works as a screenwriter, toiling away on a romantic comedy that just can't seem to come together. This is because, since his mother abandoned him as a child, he has never really been in love. That all changes when he meets the perfect girl (Monaghan) and everything clicks; everything, that is, except for the fact that she has a boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd) and would rather trade love for security. The narrator's band of writer friends (Aubrey Plaza, Topher Grace, Luke Wilson, Martin Starr), his agent (Anthony Mackie), and his granddad (Philip Baker Hall) give him advice, and help to deconstruct the romantic comedy formula that the narrator's life seems to be turning into.

Even if the main storyline doesn't quite work, the movie's smaller character interactions are charmingly funny. The cast genuinely seems to enjoy each other's company (especially Evans and Anthony Mackie, of Captain America and the Falcon fame). They help create a laid-back quality that helps the rest of the movie go down fairly easy, even if it will be soon forgotten.

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