A screenwriter who has never been in love is tasked with writing a romantic comedy, only to find his own life curiously resembling one once he finds the woman of his dreams.
Watching Playing It Cool is like falling for very bad advertising. “I would never!” your mouth says, while your feet carry you to the store at a brisk pace.
To be fair, the film makes no secret of the audience it is trying to attract, what with Chris Evans starring, surrounded by a cast that positively screams quirky indie production, including Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson and Anthony Mackie, Evan’s buddy from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The screenwriting setup is simple, and barely enough of an opening to have two people meet: The nameless writer meets a woman (Michelle Monaghan) at a fundraiser, the attraction is instant.
She however, is engaged to another.
It’s a rom-com through and through, it even tells you so, thus the whole deal should be pretty straight-forward.
Not so, because rather than being a satisfying dumb meet-cute, Playing It Cool is trying to be smart by once again opening the never-ending discussion about the nature of love and relationships.
This results in a lot of talking and very little action in the obnoxious setting of LA hobby shooting ranges, vintage shops and of course Santa Monica beach, which in itself would perhaps be more engaging were it done by real characters a viewer can empathise with.
Leaving the writer and the woman without name is probably a deliberate ploy to show us it is a story that could happen to anyone, anywhere, but that, coupled with the fact that over the course of 94 minutes we barely find out anything about either of them, will rob even the most dedicated viewer of a reason to care about any of the proceedings.
His clique, too, is made out of a bunch of people with one character trait each, only there to provide an audience for the narrator to bounce ideas off of, and the romance takes place between two characters so alike it’s not only unbelievable, but also boring.
She likes fun dates, has quirky, unconventional views, and is pretty, and so provides you with, unsettlingly enough, a great opportunity to quote Gillian Flynn’s romance-gone-wrong Gone Girl: “Everyone likes a cool girl” – there is literally no fault to be found with the woman the writer falls in love with. He on the other side, turns out less than likeable on more than one occasion.
The worst about Playing It Cool is, that it had potential. The gags are often funny, and the film has a gimmicky little storytelling device that will have you see Chris Evans as a woman, a character in a Korean period drama, an astronaut and more.
What’s left is a film that runs on well-trodden paths, while trying to convince you it does anything but.
Playing It Cool is no 500 Days of Summer, and can for all it is trying hard to be a smart, be easily abandoned for any of thousand other romantic comedies.
Director: Justin Reardon
Starring: Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson
Running Time: 94 mins
Release Date: 11th May 2015