Playing It Cool (2014)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Playing It Cool</strong> (2014)

(On Cable TV, March 2016) The small independent Los Angeles-based romantic comedy subgenre is interesting: By virtue of sticking close to Hollywood and going over intensely familiar ground, it can often become a showcase for new directors, established actors trying something different, stylistic experimentation and small-scale enjoyment. So it is with Playing It Cool, a somewhat average romantic comedy set in Los Angeles, starring no less than Chris Evans as his usually likable self, albeit in a far more comic and down-to-earth capacity than many of his starring roles so far. (Other smaller roles are filled by other people you’d recognize.) The film goes for a fair amount of insider meta-jokes by making its protagonist a screenwriter in search of inspiration as he’s trying to write a comedy. But the tone remains light throughout, and director Justin Reardon occasionally indulges in a number of small stylistically interesting touches (such as a “doorway” sequence zipping from one scene to another). Michelle Monaghan is just as likable as the romantic interest, and even though Playing It Cool tries to pretend that’s cooler than its own genre, it’s actually quite mannered in how it reverts to form and delivers exactly what’s expected. While the film does stink a bit too much of the male gaze in the way it approaches its female characters, Playing It Cool does the job as a gently amusing romantic comedy. It’s not meant to be more than a likable goof, and it succeeds modestly at that goal.

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