Loveless in Los Angeles (2007) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for sexual content, language, and brief drug use
Running time: 95 min.
Cast: Dash Mihok, Brittany Daniel, Geoffrey Arend, Navi Rawat, James Lesure, Chris Coppola, Stephen Tobolowski, Stacey Scowley
Director: Archie Gips
Screenplay: Archie Gips
Writer-director Archie Gips (The Golden Blaze) sends up the profession that got him started, back when he was the senior segment producer for the hit ribald TV dating show, "Blind Date", which ran for almost four years in syndication around the US (called "Cupid Confidential" in Europe). He combines his experience on this show with a romantic comedy, somewhat in the Swingers-meets-When Harry Met Sally mold, two films the characters refer to now and then. If you're going to emulate the best, why not cast Brittany Daniel (White Chicks, Club Dread), who is very much a Meg Ryan type in the lead actress role? It's a formula that works, but as with all formula films, its appeal will most likely be only to those who regularly dine at the same establishments for entertainment.
Dash Mihok (Firehouse Dog, Hollywoodland) stars as nice guy Dave Randall, who develops a crush for his college friend, Kelly (Daniel). However, Kelly has a man already, and is on a mission to fulfill her itinerary of life goals on schedule, which means, Dave is going to be permanently put in the "friends only" category. Kelly follows her life path by getting married, while Dave has set out out to Hollywood to fulfill his dream of becoming a screenwriter, though he ends up putting those plans on hold when he becomes an editor and quip writer for a scandalous TV dating show called "Double Date", in which a young man or woman goes on a date with two members of the opposite sex, usually ending up drinking copious amounts of alcohol and making a complete ass out of him or her self.
Ten years later sees both former friends changing their tune when it comes to relationships, as Dave has turned from perpetual door mat to the kind of jerk who seems to always get women, while Kelly, now divorced, now wants the kind of guy she can love and grow old with. Kelly heads to Hollywood to pursue her new dream of becoming an actress, where she runs into Dave, and the two catch up. Dave's unscrupulous co-producer Gewn (Rawat, House of Sand and Fog) decides to give Kelly the exposure she is seeking by setting her up on "Double Date", but drugs her drinks enough to get Kelly to go completely wild -- it promises to be the hottest show of sweeps week. Will Dave be a jerk and use Kelly to advance his career, or will the nice guy who once loved her reemerge to save the day?
Though the main plot is largely familiar, credit writer-director Gips for providing enough clever character touches and humorous situations to kick this up a notch above most straight-to-video efforts in the romantic comedy genre. Good casting also helps, as both Mihok and Daniel perform well as both the potential love interests as well as in their individual bits of comedy. A solid supporting cast chips in, with two players in particular stealing the scenes they're in: Navi Rawat makes for a great scheming vixen, while Geoffrey Arend (The Ringer, It Runs in the Family) is quite funny as Dave's too-nice, fantasy sports-obsessed best friend, Ryan.
Though the title of this low-budget film makes it sound very generic, there is enough clever material to keep the delivery from becoming stale for those who love adult rom-coms that aim at both male and female audiences with equal gusto. It tries more for laughs than romance, featuring a good deal of digs at the vacuous nature of the Hollywood lifestyle and the people who inhabit it, but the characters are likeable enough, especially when they're unlikable, to give the necessary momentum for some decent chuckles. Predictable, but thankfully, Loveless is not laugh-less.
©2007 Vince Leo