#REVIEW: “PLAYING IT COOL”
Formerly titled Love is a Many Splintered Thing, Playing it Cool brings to life a promising Black List-named Screenplay by Chris Schafer and Paul Vicknair. Centering on a Screenwriter known in the Story as the Narrator (Chris Evans) who prefers writing Action, though tasked by his Publisher (Anthony Mackie) with writing a Romance, we witness him become the Story’s Romantic Lead. Himself a Disbeliever in love, he finds himself drawn helplessly to a beautiful Woman simply known as Her (Michelle Monaghan), doing just about anything including passing himself as a Saviour of Frogs, to get her attention. The problem however, is that she already is with somebody else (Ioin Gruffud). He spends much of his time trying to win her heart – and certainly not without a struggle – in this Guy-geared Rom-Com.
Although it does possess a kitschy charm at moments, Playing it Cool overall fails fully to engage, which is a shame considering the caliber of talent and script. On paper, the casting of Evans, himself in a “meta” way going from Action to Romance, seems like a perfect fit. Ultimately, his Narrator lacks that devilish bite that should make his Character so bad he’s irresistibly good that his actions are completely justifiable. It’s hard to side with a Guy out to ruin a Girl’s relationship, doing so through semi-stalking, but if it ever was done right, some credit must be given here to Evans for not repulsing us completely.
Monaghan has a captivating presence on-screen but we wish we got more of her side of the Story and her own emotional struggle. At times, it all seems a bit too easy for Evan‘s Narrator. Start to finish though, Monaghan is one of the Film’s saving graces. An oddball mix of Confidantes surrounding the Narrator including Aubrey Plaza, Martin Starr, Topher Grace (As Evan‘s Brother Scott) and a long-missed Luke Wilson provide occasional laughter, but still lack a connection and feel under-utilized. Cameos from Glee‘s Matthew Morrison and Ashley Tisdale are a bit of a fun surprise, although we feel this might best be watched on a lazy afternoon on the couch.
VVS Films release PLAYING IT COOL via Video on Demand and in select Toronto and Montreal theatres Friday, February 27, 2015.