Relationship Status: It’s Complicated (Situation amoureuse: c’est complique): Film Review
“Entourage” star Emmanuelle Chriqui toplines this Paris-set romantic comedy from Gallic actor turned director Manu Payet (“The Players”).
Despite a title that suggests a contemporary romantic farce about Internet dating, Relation Status: It’s Complicated (Situation amoureuse: c’est complique) offers up a highly generic, generally unfunny love triangle that we’ve seen way too many times before. With French comic star Manu Payet taking his first stab at the helm (alongside co-director Rodolphe Lauga), this tale of a 30-year-old loser caught between his bride-to-be and childhood crush dishes out a few good ideas before succumbing to formula, strictly following the Hollywood rule book without adding anything fresh. French numbers for this StudioCanal release will be adequate amid lots of competition, while the presence of Entourage star Emmanuelle Chriqui should help drive modest international sales.
Not to be confused with the similarly titled Nancy Meyers movie, whose own formulaic scenario was somewhat buoyed by a seasoned cast, this debut effort from stand-up and TV sketch maestro Payet doesn’t have much to bank on beyond pure energy, which the rambunctious writer-director-actor definitely has in large reserves.
Otherwise, the script (written by Payet, Nicolas Peufaillit and Romain Levy) could have been lifted from a chapter of Rom-Coms for Dummies: Ben (Payet) is a milquetoast slacker about to wed his sprightly sweetheart, Juliette (Anais Demoustier). But when longtime infatuation, Vanessa (Chriqui), moves back to Paris and offers him a chance to finally win her over, she throws a major curveball at his love life, forcing Ben to choose between the girl he should marry and the girl who’s always been impossible to get.
It’s clearly not the most original premise, though Payet manages to spruce things up with a couple of directorial flourishes, including a spontaneous dance sequence set to Harry Belafonte’s “Jump in the Line” and a handful of side characters who supply a few welcome laughs -- especially an old junior high school buddy played by comic Jean-Francois Cayrey, who’s looks and acts like a Gallic dead ringer for David Koechner (Anchorman).
But the romance between Ben and Vanessa never quite clicks, and beyond an unlikely scene where the two watch YouPorn together, it’s made up of pure bread-and-butter movie moments, such as a montage that has them making funny faces in front of paintings at the Petit Palais. Meanwhile, Juliette isn’t much more than a nagging fiancée obsessed with the big day, breathing down Ben’s neck when he doesn’t help out while trying to rein in her wacky artist dad (Philippe Duquesne).
The cast nonetheless does a decent job playing characters who only feel half-developed, with the Montreal-born Chriqui getting by just fine in French and providing suitable eye-candy for all the gawking dudes. Rising talent Demoustier (who stars in Pascale Ferran’s upcoming Bird People) adds some depth to a role that doesn’t really have any, while Payet plays a feckless couch potato à la Seth Rogen or Jason Segal, though he’s incapable of delivering their level of laughs.
Tech credits seem substandard, with bland cinematography that could use an additional session of color timing, and editing that lacks rhythm in certain scenes. A busy soundtrack includes upbeat hits from LCD Soundsystem, the Spin Doctors and French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman’s cheesy but catchy 80s standard, “Pas toi."
Opens: Wednesday, Mar. 19 (in France)
Production companies: LGM Cinema, StudioCanal, D8 Films, Nexus Factory, Nolita Invest, Nolita Cinema
Cast: Manu Payet, Anais Demoustier, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Philippe Duquesne, Jean-Francois Cayrey
Directors: Manu Payet, Rodolphe Lauga
Screenwriters: Manu Payet, Nicolas Peufaillit, Romain Levy
Producers: Cyril Colbeau-Justin, Jean-Baptiste Dupont
Executive producer: David Giordano
Director of photography: Martial Schmeltz
Production designer: Jeremy Streliski
Costume designer: Emmanuelle Youchnovski
Editor: Frederique Olszak-Olszewksi
Sales agent: StudioCanal
No rating, 98 minutes