Losing Control: Film Review

PhD Productions
Science-themed rom-com isn't ready for clinical trials.

Miranda Kent and Reid Scott star in director Valerie Weiss' science-themed romantic comedy.

The scientific method is an iffy means to vet love in Losing Control, the debut feature by biophysics student-turned-filmmaker Valerie Weiss. Though it's easy to imagine the pic's conceit making for a likeable mainstream rom-com, its execution is far too broad and unlikely to connect with viewers.

Miranda Kent plays Sam, a Harvard PhD candidate struggling to prove the results of research she knows is groundbreaking. When longtime boyfriend Ben (Reid Scott) proposes, she confuses career frustrations with personal ones, telling him she needs to prove he's the right candidate by gathering data from other suitors.

Cue the lineup of wacky would-be one-night-stands, ranging from crass yuppies to tantric freaks and one sensitive fella recruiting for a polyamorous homestead. Some of the potential romances hit amusing notes, but Weiss isn't invested in making any of them feel like a plausible encounter. She's similarly reluctant to ground Sam's friends and family: Mom (Lin Shaye) is a raging caricature of micromanaging Jewish motherhood; promiscuous gal-pal Leslie (Kathleen Robertson) tries any Brazil-like cosmetic procedure she sees hoping for success with men.

This shallowness might work for farce, but Weiss never musters anything approaching comic momentum; when she does attempt a gross-out gag, her staging telegraphs it so far in advance we're moving on before anyone gets dirty.

Side plots involving heartbroken Ben and the reasons behind Sam's lab failures work a little better than the main story, but still feel rote. The film behaves too much like Sam herself, working from a checklist of attributes in hopes of finding the whole package.

Opens: Friday, March 23 (House Lights Media)
Production company: PhD Productions
Cast: Miranda Kent, Reid Scott, Kathleen Robertson, Lin Shaye, John Billingsley, Theo Alexander, Bitsie Tulloch
Director-screenwriter: Valerie Weiss
Producers: Robert A. Johnson, Matthew Medlin, Alyssa Weisberg, Valerie Weiss
Executive producer: Jeffrey M. Loeb
Director of photography: Jamie Urman
Production designer: Yoanna Wijaya
Music: John Swihart
Costume designer: Linde Aseltine
Editor: Robin Katz
Rated R, 90 minutes