Cake (December 1/05)
Cake is a cute but utterly inconsequential romantic comedy that benefits greatly from the uniformly charismatic performances, though the predictable trajectory of the storyline - coupled with a sense of humor that'd be more at home in a sitcom - cements the film's status as an instantly forgettable piece of work.
Heather Graham stars as Pippa McGee, an adventurous free-spirit who agrees to take over her father's wedding magazine after he falls ill. Her unorthodox methods irritate the staff - particularly Ian, her father's straight-laced right hand man (David Sutcliffe) - and it doesn't take long for Pippa to start imposing her anti-marriage views on the magazine (articles on divorce rates and the importance of pre-nups become commonplace). And though virtually all of her friends are married or engaged, Pippa sees no reason to change her attitude - until she inadvertantly finds herself falling for Ian.
Cake features all the beats that one expects out of a contemporary romantic comedy, including (of course) the ubiquitous fake break-up. Far more problematic is the emphasis on needlessly dramatic moments - which become more and more conspicuous as the film progresses - as the viewer is forced to wait patiently for Pippa to learn that settling down isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a lesson that we know Pippa has to learn before the credits roll, which makes it all-the-more-difficult to sit through some of the seriously ridiculous obstacles screenwriter Tassie Cameron tosses in her way.
Even Graham's bubbly performance - complemented by effective supporting work from Sandra Oh, Taye Diggs, and Sarah Chalke - can't quite disguise the distinct made-for-TV feel running through virtually every aspect of Cake.