This is a little romantic comedy that came out 2010, written and directed by Daryn Tufts, and starring Alyssa Milano (who is the reason I decided to buy this DVD, naturally). Christopher Gorham plays Ethan. When the film opens he’s desperately running up to an apartment building, looking for his true love, a woman named Suzy. But, according to Suzy’s roommate, Katie (Chantel Flanders), Suzy has already left for the airport. So Ethan rushes to the airport, to stop Suzy from leaving, even though Katie tells him that he’ll never make it in time. He gets to the airport, but sees that her flight has already left, and he’s crushed. Until he’s turns around and sees Suzy (Kelly Packard), who decided not to leave. They declare their love for one another, and Ethan begins to make a speech about “second chances” when…STOP.
It turns out that wasn’t real, it’s just part of a novel that Ethan wrote, and submitted to a publisher (played by Carole Kane), who tells him that the story is too cliché, it’s not realistic and feels just like every other love story. She basically tells him that he just doesn’t have it in him to be a writer, that his mistake is basing his leading male characters on himself, when it’s obvious that he doesn’t have much luck in the love department, and therefor no experiences to draw from, which is why is love stories aren’t good enough.
Dejected, Ethan heads to a local coffee shop, where he meets a waitress named Jesse (Milano), who, after hearing about his trouble with the publisher, convinces him to not give up on his writing. Impulsively, Ethan asks her out on a date, and she accepts. Soon after that, a man named Troy (Michael Landes) walks in for an order, and he ends up asking Jesse out too, which she also accepts. Over the next few weeks, or months (it’s not really clear exactly how much time passes, but it’s significant), Jesse dates both men.
Ethan and Troy each have qualities that Jesse likes, and are similar in some ways, despite being at different stages in their lives. Ethan is the maintenance man in his apartment building in exchange for free rent while he struggles to write, while Troy co-owns his own advertising agency, and is more financially successful, as well as more traditionally handsome. We see Ethan taking Jesse out to play miniature golf, and then Troy taking her out to a real golf course. Things like that. We also learn that Jesse was previously married once before, for a few years, but it ended because, as she tells Ethan, she just “wasn’t the right girl” for her ex-husband. Now she lives with her brother, David (Tom Lenk), who has a subplot in the movie involving him having once inadvertently being made to star in a commercial for gum, which makes him somewhat of a local celebrity, constantly getting recognized as “the gum guy”, which he hates.
What’s masterful about this film is that, despite the convoluted premise, it never slips into slapstick, or cliches, as other romantic comedies with this premise tend to do. There are no wacky close-calls where Ethan and Troy almost run into each other while Jesse is out with one of them. Jesse does struggle with the idea of whether or not she should tell the two men that she’s dating someone else, discussing her dilemma with David and their uncle Logan (Beau Bridges), but it’s just a matter of her own conscious bothering her, especially as it becomes clear that both men are getting serious about her. She even inspires the writing of both, as Ethan begins working on a new novel, thanks to Jesse’s encouragement, and a stray comment by Jesse gives Troy a great idea for an ad campaign, which helps him land a major new account for his agency.
The film also manages to avoid making Jesse look bad, or sleazy, in any way. When she accepted the first dates with each man, she was a single woman, she just started casually dating them, like many single people do, and found that she genuinely liked each one, and so her confusion over which one is really right for her feels real, and not like she’s just stringing them both along. And the film helps us, the viewer, understand her confusion, as both men are good guys. While it does seem a little as if we are supposed to be rooting for Ethan, Troy is also portrayed as a nice guy that you can see Jesse with. It’s sort of like, Jesse is perfect for Ethan, but Troy is perfect for Jesse, so what’s the right choice?
Eventually, things come to a head, as Troy gets that new account, and now must move to another state in order to establish another office for his agency, and he asks Jesse to move with him. But then Ethan asks Jesse to marry him. Jesse apparently chooses Troy, although the hurt she’s going through as she rejects Ethan’s proposal, and tells him that she’s not the right girl for him, is obvious. She tells him she’s moving away, although still doesn’t mention anything about Troy. Ethan is totally dejected by this, although he soon finds out that the publisher has accepted the new book that he wrote while dating Jesse, and wants to publish it. He’s happy, but decides that he just can’t give up on Jesse yet, and runs back to her apartment to catch her before she leaves, in a scene that is reminiscent of the opening of the film, except this time it’s real life. But don’t expect it to end like the opening scene did.
I will not say any more, because I really don’t want to spoil the ending. But let me just say that there is a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous. And I’m not talking about the M. Night from Lady in The Water or The Village, I’m talking about the M. Night from SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE, when everyone loved him. I did NOT see the ending of this film coming AT ALL. I was in total shock, and I loved it! Kudos to Daryn Tufts for the writing in this film, and choosing this great cast. Milano, Gorham, and Landes all make this film work, and I was also impressed by Lenk, who stole each scene he was in. I’d say that Bridges was a bit wasted in his relatively small role, but was more than capable in each of his scenes. But I really highly recommend this film, which is PG, suitable for every audience. I give it a grade of:
Buy it on Amazon HERE.