The Other End of the Line
EmptyOpened: Friday, Oct. 31 (MGM)
A mild cross-cultural romantic comedy dropped into a few theaters by MGM with all the hoopla of a fugitive entering the Witness Protection Program, "The Other End of the Line" has the dramatic impact of a dropped cell phone call.
If you've ever pined for an attractive anonymous voice on the other end of a routine business call, then you might fall for this tale about the cross-cultural romance that develops between slick New York advertising exec Granger Woodruf (Jesse Metcalfe) and Mumbai-based call-center worker Priya (Shriya Saran) after she contacts him about some fraudulent charges on his credit card.
Sporting an American name and accent, the well-trained Priya (she's been taught to differentiate between actors Dermot Mulroney and Dylan McDermott, which is frankly more than I've ever been able to do) falls for Granger despite already being engaged to someone else. So she takes the bait when he suggests meeting in San Francisco, where she's supposedly based, when he has to fly there on a business trip.
Needless to say, the inevitable plot complications ensue, including a case of mistaken identity and the pesky interventions of Granger's superhot casual girlfriend (Sara Foster). It won't be any great revelation to say that it all works out in the end, especially if you've seen "An Officer and a Gentleman," the ending of which is freely borrowed.
While the film thankfully doesn't lay on the cultural clash comedy too thickly, it's otherwise strictly formulaic, with the lovers getting to know each other, like so many screen couples before them, by splashing each other while frolicking fully clothed in the surf.
Although the two leads are certainly not tough to look at, neither makes enough of an impression to carry the film, and such supporting players as Austin Basis as Granger's envious best friend and Larry Miller as an officious hotel chain owner don't exactly pick up the slack.
And just in case there haven't already been enough subliminal references to earlier and far better romantic comedies, a cover of "Pretty Woman" is helpfully included on the soundtrack.
Production: Brass Hat Films, Hyde Park Films
Cast: Shriya Saran, Jesse Metcalfe, Austin Basis, Sara Foster, Larry Miller
Director: James Dodson
Screenwriter: Tracey Jackson
Executive producers: Patrick Aiello, Nick Hamson, Lars Sylvest
Producers: Ashok Amritraj, Pete Chiarelli, Elizabeth Ingold
Director of photography: Harlan Bosmajian
Production designers: Kalpa Dave, Jessica M. Lapin
Music: BC Smith
Costume designer: Inanna Bantu
Editor: Ethan Maniquis
Rated PG-13, 106 minutes.