You’ll probably not agree with me on this one, but here it goes. Cha Cha Real Smooth is cringe-worthy from start to finish. Writer/Director/Star/you get the idea; Cooper Raiff tells the tale of Andrew, a golly guy we’re supposed to all love. Bah humbug, I didn’t love him! I get the character is still learning in life, but it’s hard for me to connect with a 22-year-old playboy who wrecks marriages.
I like comedies about flawed people, But when a film forces me to appreciate a character I find irritating, I can’t help but be turned off. Loving the protagonist is the formula for any Judd Apatow comedy. Now, if that is the idea Cooper Raiff has in mind, then why not present a moral problem to the viewer? Should we like this person? Is there something wrong with us if we do? No character’s life is affected by Andrew’s actions, and you’ll feel as cuddly as the adoring audience around me did. But I know the problem is me.
The world is obsessed with The Office. The pseudo-documentary style was welcomingly original, but its approach is now over-saturated. Soon there was Parks and Recreation, Community, 30 Rock, Modern Family, and Schitt’s Creek. The humor Cha Cha Real Smooth has is similar to these shows, not in aesthetics but rather in the dialog. It feels like everyone is telling a joke to the camera instead of speaking commonly to each other. Growing up on screwball comedies, I was used to the characters taking everything seriously until someone falls down a flight of stairs or is poked in the eyes. Here, Cooper Raiff is wincing at the audience, cuing the crowd to laugh at the punchlines instead of letting the jokes develop naturally.
Although Cha Cha Real Smooth isn’t an episode of The Office, it feels like something in between with a charm that doesn’t appeal to me. I enjoyed the dynamic between Andrew and his kid brother David (Evan Assante). During the opening, I thought the movie would be about young Dave, which Andrew shacks in with. I wish that were the case since I found the boy far more enjoyable to watch than the man.
It’s hard for me to care for a stud who lacks any concrete flaws. Andrew’s a 23-year-old middle-class white male who works in a local fast food joint during the day and is a party starter by night. When not clocking in, Andrew gets trashed at bar mitzvahs and weddings he’s DJng.
At one his bar mitzvah’s Andrew runs into his love interest, Domino (Dakota Johnson). Almost immediately after suffering a miscarriage, Domino sleeps with Andrew, falling in love with him the night she met him. She’s married by the way. That is one freaky gal. Also, kind of heartless when you think about the fact that her kid just died inside of her. But when you’re in the mood, I guess you’re in the mood.
Maturity and growth is the movie’s theme. Every point made to the audience is basic psychological knowledge. Yet everything is spoken through Mr. Raiff’s mouth like he’s uncovered a profound crevice of emotion nobody has discovered. Learning that everyone gets depressed and you have to let go of some things you love isn’t fascinating. Neither is the comedic, non confrontational preachy trait of the flick. Although realistic, since reasonable people don’t engage in arguments or altercations as they do in the movies, I could have used some drama to liven things up.
Cutaway from quippy Andrew for a second, and let me see what Domino’s husband says about her cheating on him. A line about Andrew’s Mom (Leslie Mann) having another episode is presented at the film’s beginning, then never addressed again. The mention of Mom’s episode is handled haphazardly with humor. What could be an exciting aspect to explore, giving Andrew some more depth, is tossed aside. So mental breakdowns are funny now?
Similar to my screening of King Richard, everyone in the theater laughed and cried when they were supposed to. Then there’s grouchy old me sitting with my arms crossed. I can’t help but feel that Cha-Cha Slide is a narcissism piece. Although not as egotistical King Richard, Cha Cha feels like a commercial for its lead with not a lot to say in between. Cooper is probably a good guy who loves everyone, but I don’t need to see a film about it.
When Cha Cha Real Smooth drops on Apple TV Jun 17th, feel free to tell me why I’m wrong. I’m always open for a rewatch.