Two Romantic Comedies from Buena Vista
Everything You Want (May 31/06)
Oppressively quirky and thoroughly predictable, Everything You Want is a romantic comedy for viewers who've never seen a romantic comedy. Aside from a couple of surprisingly personable performances, the film has virtually nothing going for it - though it does seem likely that the movie's target demographic of pre-teen girls will find something here worth embracing. Shiri Appleby plays Abby Morrison, a neurotic artist who still communicates with the imaginary friend she created in childhood. Sy (Orlando Seale), a polite Brit, seems to offer Abby everything she could hope for in a guy; after meeting hunky art student Quinn (Nick Zano), however, Abby begins to rethink her reliance on Sy. Everything You Want strikes all the wrong notes right from the get-go, as screenwriters Steven A. Lee and Kevin Lawrence King pepper the film with a whole host of ludicrously eccentric supporting characters (ie Abby's best friend only dates men named Ryan, while Quinn's roommate is still playing Pong). Appleby and Zano are admittedly far better than the material deserves, and there's little doubt that the actors would've made a fairly convincing couple in a halfway-decent romcom. Filmmaker Ryan Little imbues the movie with a dreamy, distinctly made-for-the-Disney-Channel sort of feel, offering up a ridiculous amount of montages set to insipid pop songs and a general emphasis on idiosyncrasy (there's not a single believable moment in all of Everything You Want).
Shadows in the Sun (June 3/06)
Shadows in the Sun is a pleasant little romantic comedy that's generally elevated by the uniformly compelling performances and some admittedly gorgeous scenery. Joshua Jackson stars as Jeremy Taylor, an uptight book editor who is sent to Italy to track down a notoriously reclusive author named Weldon Parish (Harvey Keitel). Weldon hasn't written anything since the death of his beloved wife, much to the consternation of his friends and family (particularly his free-spirited daughter Isabella, played by Claire Forlani). There are few surprises to be had as Shadows in the Sun unfolds, particularly in terms of Jeremy's arc (ie it doesn't take a genius to figure out that his fancy suits and slick-backed hair aren't going to last long in Weldon's laid-back village), and yet it becomes increasingly difficult to resist the amiable, undeniably breezy vibe at work here. Director Brad Mirman - along with cinematographer Maurizio Calvesi - infuses the movie with a picturesque sensibility that quickly proves to be irresistible, though the film's pace is occasionally a little too relaxed for its own good. Jackson comes off as perfect leading man material, delivering a performance that's so effortlessly charismatic one can't help but wonder why he isn't getting more work. Keitel is superb in a role that could've been overwhelmingly quirky in the wrong hands, and brings a fair amount of depth to the otherwise lightweight proceedings. In the end, Shadows in the Sun seems content to exist as nothing more than an agreeable diversion - which is, admittedly, not necessarily a bad thing every now and then.