Rom-coms right now don’t have the best rep. Sure, there are some great ‘classics’ in the past few years like 500 Days of Summer or more recently, The F Word, but it’s been hard to find a romantic comedy that is not only smart but funny, whilst sticking to the idealistic romantic formula.
Enter ‘Playing It Cool’, a project once known as ‘A Many Splintered Thing’ that sees Chris Evans as the lead guy who has never been in love. Much like in the Captain America franchise, Snowpiercer and many of his other films, irrespective of his acting ability his capacity to imbue his character with charm and relateability helps to carry the film.
Michelle Monaghan stars opposite Evans as the girl that helps illuminate Evans’ jaded film writer. Anthony Mackie hires Evans’ to write a romantic comedy so that Evans can finally write the Action film he’s been dying to get his teeth stuck into. The audience takes the journey along with Evans’ character as he attempts to discover love to be able to write his screenplay and meets Monaghan’s exciting character in the process.
The filming is fast, the dialogue snappy and fluid and many of the creative constructs hilarious. There’s a scene near the end where Evans’ is being ‘cheered’ on by various onlookers which we realise is all images in his head. It makes the film fun and interesting whilst also making fun of its own genre. There’s actual chemistry between Evans and Monaghan which make the romance believeable. For the scenes that are a little too idealistic to be believed, this chemistry helps us put it to one side.
The film doesn’t quibble much with names (as far as I remember, we never find out the names of Monaghan and Evans’ characters), and this is a small strength for the film. It helps to draw in the audience and if the film tells us nothing new about love or relationships, many of the opinions and issues it displays are real enough to balance out the sweeping romance.
The film is not a revolutionary rom com in that it’s free of the stereotypes of its genre, but it is an example of a romantic comedy done right, whilst trying to provoke thought in areas more profound than merely ‘boy likes girl’. This is the kind of light hearted film which both guys and girls can enjoy. There is no UK or US release date yet set for the film but I’d heartily recommend it. It’s a romantic comedy that for once, isn’t sickly sweet, but more on the smart side.
(photo credit: The Hollywood Reporter)