After boosting her indie movie cred with The Peanut Butter Falcon and Our Friend, Dakota Johnson has signed on to star opposite Cooper Raiff in the Shithouse director’s new movie Cha Cha Real Smooth.
Raiff wrote the script, which will see him play a bar/bat mitzvah DJ, as in, a guy who gets people dancing at the party, not spinning records while wearing headphones. At some point, he strikes up a friendship with a young mother (Johnson) and her autistic daughter.
Picturestart and Endeavor Content will co-finance the project, which Raiff will produce with Johnson and her TeaTime Pictures partner Ro Donnelly. Jessica Switch and Julia Hammer will oversee the project for Picturestart, which also financed and produced Johnson‘s upcoming movie Am I OK? that just wrapped production this past week.
Raiff has been riding a wave of industry buzz after his debut film Shithouse won the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s canceled SXSW festival. As a result, there were multiple bidders for Cha Cha Real Smooth, which like the DJ Casper song “Cha Cha Slide,” apparently had everybody (who read the script) clapping their hands. The director is now slated to start production on his new movie this summer, and Endeavor Content will handle global sales with ICM Partners, which represents Raiff along with manager Adam Kersh of Fusion Entertainment.
Shithouse was one of those movies that everyone told me to watch, and then I threw it on late one night, which was a terrible call on my part, but not the way you’re probably thinking. It’s one of those movies you really have to be in the right mood for, and because it was so late, the movie felt a bit too slow for me, so I turned it off after 30 minutes. By the time I tried to finish it the following week (when the mood was finally right), my screener link had expired. I was shit(house) out of luck. Serves me right!
While I do intend to finish watching Shithouse, I must say that the premise for Cha Cha Real Smooth is much more up my alley. For starters, I had an epic bar mitzvah and a big part of its success was the evening’s entertainment — Johnny K of Pure Energy Entertainment, who made crass jokes that my friends and I loved when he was out of earshot of my parents, and brought along some, um, well-endowed dancers who really made our family photo album pop. Of course, it’s not an easy job to coax 100+ people onto the dance floor so the bar mitzvah boy or girl’s parents can feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, and I look forward to seeing the somewhat gawky and awkward Raiff try.
Maybe Johnson will fall for Raiff after he gets her daughter dancing or goes out of his way to get her involved with the other kids at the party. That would be a sweet set-up, and there was a certain sweetness to the first half-hour of Shithouse that I admired, so who knows, maybe this movie becomes the next Wedding Singer?
Johnson recently starred in The High Note, and she’ll soon be seen in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter. She also makes a bold cameo alongside Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, in The Nowhere Inn, which IFC Films just picked up more than a year after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.