Is it progress to say that homosexual rom-coms could be as foolish and silly as straight ones? That’s the dilemma one encounters when watching My Pretend Boyfriend, a superficial entry into the world of romantic comedy that has no enterprise being as pleasant as it’s. The skinny materials, stretched even thinner by an overabundance of jarring needle drops and conspicuous product placement, is saved by its trio of lead actors … however solely simply barely.
The movie is the newest launch from Buzzfeed Studios, and it feels precisely like a type of popular culture lists that web site churns out each 10 minutes: Brief, peppy, and disposable, leaving you with a sense of no data gained and a while consumed, albeit pleasurably. It appears designed for viewers with nothing higher to do, which is the best reward one can provide a movie like this.
My Pretend Boyfriend‘s setup is goofy however promising: After attempting unsuccessfully to maneuver on from his useless cleaning soap opera actor boyfriend, Andrew (Keiynan Lonsdale) enlists assistance from his greatest pal, Jake (Dylan Sprouse), and Jake’s girlfriend, Kelly (Sarah Hyland), to disentangle himself from his emotionally abusive ex, Nico. After witnessing Andrew’s botched makes an attempt at relationship, Jake comes up with an concept: Why not create a pretend on-line boyfriend to make Nico jealous and thus unwilling to meddle in his ex’s life to spice up his ego? Armed with an excessive amount of time and graphic design abilities, Jake conjures up Cristiano, an impossibly handsome on-line boyfriend who runs with the bulls in Pamplona, skydives for enjoyable, and fulfills each want Andrew wishes.
It’s no spoiler to state that the scheme works .. .for awhile. Problems ensue when Andrew meets a lovely chef, Rafi, and begins to fall in love for actual, whereas Jake develops an unhealthy obsession with Cristiano, who symbolizes every little thing he needs he might be and isn’t. Cristiano’s rising worldwide recognition, mixed with Nico’s mounting suspicion that his ex’s new lover is just too good to be true, all come to a head in a 3rd act that’s each predictable and exhausting to endure. The requisite coda tying up all of the free ends does its greatest to get issues again on observe, and for essentially the most half, it really works.
A key ingredient to the movie’s appeal is the lead actors, who elevate the fabric that might have been rendered unwatchable by much less charismatic performers. As Andrew, Lonsdale possesses a vulnerability and honesty uncommon in romantic comedy leads, homosexual or straight. You’re invested in his feelings, even when they’re being manipulated by a plot that, at occasions, strains creditability. Sprouse’s Jake may’ve been a slacker bro like Seth Rogen in Knocked Up or Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, however as an alternative he’s nearly as fragile as Andrew. Jake’s infatuation with Cristiano isn’t mined for simply comedy; there’s actual pathos there, and it’s to the movie’s credit score that it provides Sprouse sufficient house to indicate it.
As Jake’s girlfriend, Hyland exhibits the crack comedian timing she developed within the later seasons of Trendy Household. Along with her kewpie doll face and saucer eyes, she has the appear and feel of a Thirties screwball comedienne, and he or she does as a lot as she will be able to along with her considerably restricted position. All three actors have a laid-back, lived-in vibe that sells their characters’ intimate, good-natured friendship. So long as a number of of them are onscreen, the movie hums alongside properly.
Actors can solely achieve this a lot although, and it’s in different areas, particularly the uneven path and paper-thin script, the place My Pretend Boyfriend is a drag. The director, Rose Troche, confirmed a knack for contemporary screwball comedy with the farce Bedrooms & Hallways twenty years in the past, and that peeks by in some sequences in My Pretend Boyfriend, significantly within the creation of Cristiano within the first act. But there are different occasions, particularly within the drawn-out climax that includes a preposterously staged funeral, the place the path feels flat and uninspired and the shopworn script exhibits all of its clichés.
It additionally doesn’t assist that the movie asks the viewers to imagine it’s set in New York Metropolis when its clearly not. With its spacious residences and almost empty eating places, My Pretend Boyfriend‘s Huge Apple is unconvincing, and whereas which will look like a minor quibble, it does break the fragile spell the movie weaves (it was shot in Ontario).
Stars are stars for a cause, and a few have attraction simply by sheer magnetism alone. Lonsdale, Sprouse, and Hyland make this movie watchable, and promote its absurd premise. In a time when romantic comedies are struggling to outlive, and LGBT ones are nonetheless uncommon to come back by, My Pretend Boyfriend is satisfactory leisure graded on a curve. Simply don’t focus an excessive amount of on its many flaws and you ought to be good.