Coming and Going: Film Review

Romantic comedy blends a strong TV cast with light touches of political incorrectness.

Italo-American director Edouardo Ponti pokes fun at the absurd extremes people are willing to go for love, or at least a decent date.

ROME — A romantic comedy that talks more sex than it flaunts, Coming and Going gets gentle but consistent laughs by poking fun at the absurd extremes people are willing to go for love, or at least a decent date. While its fake paraplegic protagonist in a wheelchair skirts politically incorrectness, the film steers a determined course toward a morally acceptable finale that wraps up the various plot strands neatly, as expected.

The main cast seems reprised from the Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man, including sassy standout Sasha Alexander of Rizzoli and Islesand NCIS, here playing a socially conscious lawyer who can’t say no. The film, which has played in a number of film markets, aired this month on TNT. Following its TNT airing, the film might entice some summer theatrical abroad as well as offshore remakes.    

After his star-studded debut Between Strangers, Italo-American helmer Edouardo Ponti strikes a more personal note exploiting his keen eye for the ridiculous in American life. The nerdy but not unbeddable doctor Lee (Rhys Darby from HBO’s Flight of the Conchords)is a transplanted New Zealander with a flourishing OB-GYN practice in L.A., but no dating skills whatsoever. Spurred on by his interfering next-door aunt Irma (another sex-mad role for Fionnula Flanagan), he approaches the red-hot Alex (Alexander), whose philosophy of life is love ‘em and leave ‘em. (“I never had a relationship that lasted longer than one hour,” she candidly admits.)

When they meet, Lee is in a wheelchair suffering from a pulled groin muscle, which Alex mistakes for a permanent disability. Believing him to be impotent, she relaxes and falls in love, after treating him to an outrageous but irresistible lap dance in his wheelchair. It becomes increasingly impossible for the smitten, frustrated doctor to admit that he can walk, and make love, perfectly well thank you. And so the lies multiply. Screenwriters Ponti and Dewayne Darian Jones work through the theme of trust and deceit with a light touch, turning the table a few times as hypocrisy is gleefully revealed all round.

Funnier than the toppers are the top-notch supporting thespians, particularly Pam Cook as Alex’s married sister Sue, a self-righteous pro-virginity campaigner who lets herself go one night with a young fund-raiser from the Anti-Fornication League.  Suddenly she finds herself pregnant, despite hubby Stan’s (Michael Cornacchia) low sperm count. These moments of wickedness are the film’s finest, including a memorable scene in which the child TV star of “The Happy Barn Show” (a brilliant Buddy Hendleson) gives a troubled colleague, the Happy Whale, a bottle of pills to down with alcohol to make things work out fine.

Production company: Films 1420M in association with PicturePlay Films, Bennet-Robbins Prods. 
Cast: Rhys Darby, Sasha Alexander, Fionnula Flanagan, Michael Cornacchia, Carla Gallo, David Mazouz
Director: Edouardo Ponti
Screenwriters: Edouardo Ponti, Dewayne Darian Jones

Executive producers: Haig Bagerdjian, Alfredo Gilardini
Producers: Edouardo Ponti, Scott Rosenfelt
Director of photography: Ernest Holzman
Production designer: Tommaso Ortino
Music: William Goodrum

Costumes: Mirena Rada

Editor: Tina Pacheco
Sales Agent: The Little Film Company
No rating, 93 minutes.