(director/writer: Kris Rey;  cinematographer: Nate Hurtseller; editor: Zach Clark; music: Curtis Heath, featuring the music of Star Parks.; cast: Gillian Jacobs (Kate Conklin), Jemaine Clement (David), Josh Wiggins (Hugo), Zoe Chao (Laura), Kristina Valada-Viars (Alexis), Kate Micucci (Rachel), Brandon Daley (Tall Brandon), Cindy Gold (Mrs. Beeter), Rammel Chan (Elliot), Hannah Marks (April), Jorma Taccone (Bradley Cooper), Jennifer Joan Taylor (Hugo’s Mom), Khloe Janel (Emma), Forrest Goodluck (Animal); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Matthew Helderman, Luke Taylor, Joe Listhaus, Shaun Sanghani, Sabine Stener, Rohan Gurbaxani, Gigi Lacks, Jackie Palkovicz, Michael Palkovicz, Michael J. Rothstein, Roz Rothstein; Gravitas Ventures; 2020)

“Tries to get by with only charm.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Chicago-based indie writer/director Kris Rey (“Unexpected”/”Empire Builder”) helms this slight rom/com that playfully tries to get by with only charm.

Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs, Community, Love) is ticked-off her publisher refuses to promote her new novel. She’s also irritated, now that she cancelled her wedding, that her happily married best friend Laura (Zoe Chao) has a baby.

When the downcast Kate receives an invite from her favorite former English professor, David (
Jemaine Clement), she accepts. Leaving Chicago to be at her fictional upstate Illinois alma mater, where she reconnects with her undergrad friend, the doltish producer, Jorma (Bradley Cooper), and at parties meets some current uncomplicated undergrads, like the sensitive Hugo & the fun-loving Animal (Josh Wiggins & Forrest Goodluck). She’s surprised and a bit concerned that she feels more comfortable with the young students than with her contemporaries, who are at least 15 years older.

Being introspective, Kate sees how her youth sped by and how she lost that youthful abandonment for a life of worrying about every little thing. She comes to blame the publishing world for making her so up-tight.

In the sleepy-town college setting, she freely flirts with her married teacher friend and develops a fondness for the going steady student Hugo.

That the always smiling Jacobs is so likeable kept me tuned into the contrived rom/com, even though I probably would have tuned it out if she wasn’t in it. Also, Rey keeps her film pleasantly breezy, as she tries exploring some heavier issues with a modest success and fully develops every character introduced.

The melodrama covers familiar ground, but its feelings seem sincere and its cringe-worthy scenes seem believable even if cringe-worthy. Though a published author,  Kate’s
naïveté feels terribly wrong and puts a damper on things.

wiggins, jacobs, janel and goodluck

REVIEWED ON 8/29/2020  GRADE: B-