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You need more than just a cute setup to fuel a successful romantic comedy. That lesson seems to have escaped Liz Tuccillo, who clearly has some experience in the field as a former writer for Sex and the City and the co-author of He’s Just Not That Into You. Unfortunately, Take Care, her debut feature, co-starring Leslie Bibb and Thomas Sadoski, never manages to rise above its thin premise, with its claustrophobic setting smacking more of stage than screen.
The story begins with Frannie (Bibb) having recently suffered a car crash that has left her with a broken leg and arm. Requiring the help of several friends and a neighbor just to get up to her fourth-floor walk-up, she resists the entreaties of her sister (Nadia Dajani) to convalesce at her suburban New Jersey home.
But Frannie soon discovers that the friends she had been counting on are less than helpful. So when she reads that her ex-boyfriend Devon (Sadoski) has just sold his Internet startup for $6 million, she decides to call him out of the blue and request that he take care of her. It’s only fair, she reasons, since she nursed him through a bout of cancer just before he broke up with her.
Motivated by guilt, Devon reluctantly agrees to come over every night, much to the consternation of his extremely jealous live-in girlfriend Jodi (Betty Gilpin, Nurse Jackie). At first he goes through his chores, which include watching endless Law & Order reruns, with barely concealed resentment. But this being a rom-com, old flames are inevitably rekindled, with not-so-hilarious complications ensuing.
Moving at a glacial pace — the audience will easily sympathize with Devon when he presses Frannie’s doctor (Yul Vasquez) for an ETA on her recovery — the film mainly relies on Bibb’s heretofore unrevealed talent for goofball comedy. Playing a character defined by would-be adorable tics (she eats Pad Thai with her fingers!), the actress, stunning here despite being supposedly deglamorized with unwashed hair, etc. — is consistently amusing, especially in the physical slapstick revolving around Frannie’s immobility.
Sadoski, whose character is emotionally guarded and downright surly at times, is less successful in making us care about Devon, whose primary appeal seems to be that he has a lot of money. Fortunately the comic slack is relieved by Gilpin, hilarious and surprisingly sympathetic as the high-strung girlfriend, and Michael Stahl-David as a Zumba-obsessed neighbor.
Take Care features some amusing moments, to be sure. But we’re never invested in its characters’ fates, and its surfeit of sitcom-style cliches, including the presence of the inevitable flamboyantly gay best friend (Kevin Curtis), makes it seem far more suitable for the small screen.
Production companies: Entertainment One, Phase 4 Films
Cast: Leslie Bibb, Thomas Sadoski, Marin Ireland, Betty Gilpin, Tracee Chimo, Kevin Curtis, Nadia Dajnani, Michael Stahl-David
Director/screenwriter: Liz Tuccillo
Producers: Liz Tuccillo, Leslie Bibb, Grace Naughton
Executive producers: Pete Conlin, Marcelo Gandola, Jonathan Hoffman, John P. Melfi
Director of photography: Anne Etheridge
Production designer: Jacqueline Jacobson Scarfo
Editor: John Carhart III
Costume designer: Sarah Mae Burton
Casting: Stephanie Yankwitt
No rating, 93 minutes
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