CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH
(director/writer: Cooper Raiff; cinematographer: Cristina Dunlap; editor: Henry Hayes; music: Este Haim/ Christopher Stracey; cast: Evan Assante (David), Dakota Johnson (Domino), Cooper Raiff (Andrew), Lesley Mann (Andrew’s Mom), Vanessa Burghardt (Lola), Odeya Reya (Macy), Brad Garrett (Stepdad Greg), Raúl Castillo (Joseph); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Dakota Johnson, Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Jessica Switch, Cooper Raiff: Tea Time Pictures; 2022)
“A fun watch.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A bittersweet romance about lovers trying to learn how to use their heads. It’s written and directed by Cooper Raiff (“Shithouse”).
It opens with a quick flashback of the film’s protagonist as a youngster trying to score an older woman, a friend of his mom (Lesley Mann), even if no such love connection exists. It then shows that person grown-up to be Andrew (Cooper Raiff), a 22-year-old Tulane grad moving back home to New Jersey to live in the cramped house with mom and his stepdad (Brad Garrett), and aimlessly try to fit into the adult world. He works at Meat Sticks, a hot dog stand, at the mall, at a dead-end job. When taking his younger brother David (Evan Assante) to a Bar Mitzvah party with his friends, he discovers he has a skill to joyfully run a Bar Mitvah party. Some moms there hire him to host their Bar Mitvah parties so they’re also be lively.
At one party Andrew meets the single mom Domino (Dakota Johnson), ten years older, and her autistic teenage daughter Lola (Vanessa Burghardt). They hit it off when he somehow gets the sullen Lola to dance at the party and have some fun. As a result he gets a job babysitting her while Domino’s boyfriend Joseph (Raúl Castillo) is on a business trip to Chicago. When Joseph returns, he awkwardly meets his girlfriend’s new friend and the threesome try to make a go of it.
Being plotless, the performances of Cooper and Dakota are what give the slight film zest and makes it a fun watch.
It won the Sundance Film Festival 2022 U.S. Dramatic Competition Audience Award.
REVIEWED ON 2/3/2022 GRADE: B-