The Seat Filler (2004) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual dialogue and a drug reference
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Duane Martin, Kelly Rowland, DeRay Davis, Melanie Brown, Shemar Moore
Director: Nick Castle
Screenplay: Mark Brown, Duane Martin, Tisha Campbell-Martin
Duane Martin (Deliver Us from Eva, Scream 2) stars as Derrick, a down-but-not-quite-out law student struggling to pay the bills and get his homework in on time. In order to earn some much needed cash, Derrick takes a cushy evening job as a "seat filler", which requires him to attend awards shows around Hollywood sitting in vacant chairs so that when the cameras show the audience, it is always full of happy applauding people. It's not allowed for the seat fillers to converse with the actual celebrities in attendance, but one day, Derrick strikes up a conversation with a burgeoning pop star named Jhnelle (Rowland, Freddy vs. Jason), an attractive and talented singer that is immediately drawn to him. She mistakes him for an industry big-shot, and the two soon begin dating, but despite her maintenance that she isn't above a relationship with an average Joe, Derrick is in too deep to back out of his assumed persona. Now that they have feelings for each other, Derrick tries to find some way to tell her who he really is in a way that she might accept, but an easy solution doesn't appear possible.
The Seat Filler might be a standard romantic comedy at its core, but the screenwriters benefit from crafting a funny and fresh enough premise to make it just a little different than the norm in its execution. While it isn't a must-see film by any means, never rising above a level of being merely pleasantly enjoyable, for those that enjoy romantic comedies, this one has enough moments of cleverness and natural charm to justify seeking out. Appealing performances and good screen chemistry by Martin and Rowland also help.
You get what you expect here, and like most romantic comedies, there are a number of contrived moments that occur that don't really make sense within the context of the story, especially utilizing some shortcuts in the plot that can be annoying, but if you're able to suspend disbelief for the sake of the entertainment value, you'll probably end up smiling most of the way through.
The Seat Filler should have additional appeal to R&B/Pop fans that enjoy Rowland's work as a solo artist, as well her involvement as a member of the popular group, Destiny's Child. Melanie Brown (LD 50 Lethal Dose, Spice World), aka Mel B, aka Scary Spice of the Spice Girls, also has a sizable role as Jhnelle's best friend and assistant, Sandie. Actress/singer Tisha Campbell, wife of star Duane Martin, receives a co-writing credit, while Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith serve as executive producers. R&B star Chante Moore makes a brief stage appearance as well. If you're a fan of the music or artists showcased, it's worth a look.
©2006 Vince Leo