This is another one of those films that I have to hate more for the fact that it could easily have been better.
Jimmy Yang is funny. I suspect Nina Dobrev might be funny too. But the two of them, and this entire production, are held back entirely by this film’s stale script. While the movie I imagine could have been would never have been a cinematic masterpiece, it could have been a memorable comedy on the order of The Night Before if anyone involved in its production had been interested in writing any jokes.
The set-up is that a blogger who gets paid to write about her disastrous online dating life is ready for a date to finally go well and to meet a man who isn’t a total waste. This is one of many things that could have been played up better: perhaps she started the blog with a flip attitude and a lot of self-confidence in her single life, but now, the loneliness is really getting to her. Make us care that she’s single, please. Then perhaps we could attach to her and empathize with her as a human being.
She gets catfished by Jimmy Yang’s character, who comes from a Chinese-American family in which he is the black sheep. His father runs a sporting goods shop, and his brother is tall, handsome, confident and married. Yang’s character never expected the woman he was connecting with on the phone to show up out of the blue, but now that she’s here, he suggests a trade: he’ll help her date the man he was impersonating if she pretends to be his real girlfriend just to get through the holidays.
Yang’s character too could have felt more real and sympathetic if his loneliness and dissatisfaction with himself was made more pronounced, because online dating is a devastating experience of marathon rejection, particularly for men, but especially for anyone whose entire life, personality and good traits cannot neatly be summed up into series of 3″ JPEGs and 500 words or less. However it is only touched on as a kind of after-thought.
In fact, the ‘liar revealed’ trope is also sort of an afterthought when all is said and done. The movie feels like it isn’t going anywhere particularly fast, before suddenly dumping its third-act liar-reveal on us and then rushing the “and then they fall in love for real” crescendo so we can all get home to our wives and kids.
The acting was fine, and I chuckled once or twice, but this movie is just a criminal waste of talent and a generic but potential-laden plot. It doesn’t make you laugh or cry. It doesn’t do much of anything. Which is so damned irritating.
I’m calling this one Bad and giving it a 3 out of 10 on the GBU Holiday-Adjusted Christmas Scale.