Playing It Cool (2014) Review!!

h-HO00000350Synopsis – Unrequited love motivates a guy to write about his experiences.

My Take – Romcoms are most of the time predictable or filled with cliches, and I don’t hold it against them if they do. Rather I’d applaud them if they break that mold. All a good romcom has to do is build likable characters that we may reflect ourselves in, and then lead us through all this obstacles using funny and touching moments to keep us entertained and engaged until we reach the inevitable hooking up of our protagonist with his or her soul mate, realizing their own flaws and being finally mature about it. The problem with this formula is that when you fail to build likable characters, and you still count on that cookie-cutter storyline, there really are very few redeeming qualities left. A couple of laughs, perhaps, good actors, music. Not much reason to still till the end now, is it?  The story follows Me (Chris Evans) is a movie scriptwriter who gets assigned to write a script for a rom-com by his agent Bryan (Anthony Mackie). He does not exactly have an easy time writing this since he has not really been in love. Then one day, our reluctant romantic meets “Her” (Michelle Monaghan), the ideal girl of his dreams.

AMST-01694However, she happened to be already engaged to a “Stuffy” guy (Ioan Gruffudd). With his circle of friends (Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson) around him giving him “sage” advice, will our Narrator get his script written. and win Her over in the end? Frankly, I really wanted to like this one — it has a solid cast, and the promotional shots of Chris Evans in a variety of costumes (including a WWII sailor, a chain-smoking film noir hero, and an astronaut) looked intriguing. All the actors do sterling work, particularly Anthony Mackie and Topher Grace. Unfortunately, not even these talented performers could make up for the clumsy, sexist script. It is really quite striking throughout the hour I endured how glaringly obvious it becomes that these script writers (the real ones, not the fictitious ones) truly don’t have the first clue as to how love really works. The first “meaningful” kiss in the movie is a pity kiss, toe-cringingly pathetic. Or lead describes to his “friends” that his infatuation isn’t about sex or lust, it’s about the interests, feelings and whatnot that they share. One of the writers heard a line like that in another movie, and threw it in here — thing is, at this point he knows absolutely nothing about her. And then that horrible, stupid line that ended my viewing of this flick. The only redeeming qualities we’re shown about our main character are the ways his traits are not as repugnant as those of his “friends”. He’s a liar, he’s a cheat, and he is through-and-through utterly disrespectful towards women. And the worst part is that it’s not really depicted as flaws. He’s a remorseless egotist bordering on sociopath. Kinda hard to feel any connection to him. Chris Evans, who was excellent in Snowpiercer (2014) & is awesome playing the star stripped patriotic Marvel superhero is actually likeable but is pulled down by an underwritten script. The very attractive Michelle Monaghan, has an arresting presence, you would not wonder why Evan’s character falls hard for her.

PLAYING-IT-COOLThe two of them look good together and have a smart chemistry between them that makes this screen romance work. The supporting actors (Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson) playing the Narrator’s unconventional writer friends add a lot of color in the story as they discuss his love problem from different points of view. Evans was actually reunited with his a couple of his fellow Marvel superhero buddies here. “Mr. Fantastic” Ioan Gruffudd was funny as he plays Her’s fiancee Stuffy. “Falcon” Anthony Mackie was sleazy as he plays Bryan, the Narrator’s manager with a thing for Malaysian women. Matthew Morrison and Ashley Tisdale have cameos as the actors in the rom-com Evans was trying to finish. Director Justin Reardon was fortunate enough to have gathered an impressive cast of young actors to bring this crackling script to life, but falls flat! Rom coms are meant to be entertaining, this is not! Romcoms are a dime a dozen, and I suggest you put your money somewhere else. Anywhere else. As ‘Playing It Cool’ is not cool at all!! Its boring, so exaggerated, so pretentious, and so contrite I had to rush to the ending. The extra star is for the performances.


Director – Justin Reardon

Starring – Chris Evans, Aubrey Plaza, Michelle Monaghan

Rating – R

Run Time – 94 minutes

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