Playing It Cool is another installment in the slowly-growing sub-genre of rom-coms that aim to despise themselves. Chris Evans stars as a screenwriter who has managed to get hired for his worst nightmare, writing a romantic comedy.
Billed only as The Narrator (or ME in the official synopsis below), Evans is a man convinced that love doesn’t exist, which obviously leads to his believing that rom-coms are inherently stupid. Even if love were out there – he’s willing to concede that it’s a popular idea – the genre doesn’t show anything that relates to real life.
Then he meets Her (Michelle Monaghan) at a fundraising event, and finds that he can’t stop thinking about her. In a twist that has our man shaking his fist at the world, he now finds himself rolling through the cliches of the genre he can’t stand, and still has to write.
With no information to go on, not even a name, he spends weeks attending every charity function he can find in the hopes that he’ll run into her again. When he finally does, he can’t just forget about her just because she has a boyfriend (Ioan Gruffudd), so he decides to try to get more exposure to her by going on “friend dates.”
None of this goes over well with his crew of artist friends (Topher Grace, Luke Wilson, Aubrey Plaza), who know his views on relationships. Actually, it goes over quite well with Scott (Grace), who is a big fan of love in all its forms.
What started off as something like a “hate of love” mentality immediately shifts to an obsession, which both does and does not back up the initial view that rom-coms don’t portray anything like real life. This creates a situation that our hero can’t wrap his head around, but at least he doesn’t really try to.
What follows is a refreshingly jovial, and more or less honest look at what happens to people when they really fall for someone for the first time, only with an age-shifted spin. The movie talks a good game of shaking its fist at love, and all its cliches, as does our main character, but then we all discover that some cliches become cliches because they are just how things happen.
As light-hearted fare goes, this one largely surpasses its own effort and abilities, and that comes by way of the cast being able to fill the screen. Of course, that means they had to outshine the material, which, while still fun and at least different enough to get you to play along, is still a bit clunky. Certain avenues of development never actually go anywhere, and are thus unnecessary, and only serve to give certain supporting players another minute of screen time, but it’s easy to forgive in something that isn’t taking itself seriously anyway.
It isn’t the film you’ll be talking about for weeks to come, but you’ll have a good time with it, and that’s all it’s after.
PLAYING IT COOL is the story of ME (Chris Evans), a young man disillusioned by love, who meets a breathtaking young woman, HER (Michelle Monaghan), at a charity dinner by pretending to be a philanthropist. Only one problem: she’s engaged. Yet, he engages into a platonic relationship to be able to keep seeing her. Like a young ‘Walter Mitty’ using the power of imagination and wild vignettes, ME will stop at nothing to conquer HER heart.