"It's not your typical love story," begins nearly every typical love story that has ever been told, whether it's coming from your annoyingly infatuated friend or it's the thesis of a romantic comedy. The idea of subverting the clichés of romance has become a cliché in itself. The new trailer for Playing It Cool, starring Chris Evans, takes that self-awareness to a new level. Formerly titled A Many Splintered Thing, Evans' character is a rom-com writer simply called Me, and he appears to chase the Her (played by Michelle Monaghan) over the course of the movie. "I just want to write something that shows love how it really is," he says. "Not funny, not romantic."
The self-aware rom-com has certainly been done before. (500) Days Of Summer opens with the assertion that "this is not a love story." Mindy Kaling has made a whole career out of exploring the hilarious and improbable boundaries of the genre. Her character in The Mindy Project is constantly confronting the discrepancies between her rom-com fueled expectations and the realities of modern dating. Amy Poehler's They Came Together was based on mocking rom-com staples, too.
Despite all of its assertions to the contrary, Playing It Cool does look like your typical rom-com. Yes, it seems like Evans struggles with romance, but that's where the tension in rom-coms comes from. And it appears that Evans does end up getting the girl. You know what would truly set this film apart? If it didn't have a happy ending. Additionally, from the looks of the trailer, the com part isn't all there, either. The humor feels slapstick and expected. I love Aubrey Plaza in anything, but her line, "do men really think that sex is the answer to everything?" and their resounding "yes" was as predictable as it was unfunny.
Now, trailers rarely capture the nuance and subtlety of any film, so it's possible that Playing It Cool will feature surprises that truly do set it apart from the average self-aware rom-com. I'm just hoping he doesn't get the girl.
Image: Voltage Pictures