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Sunday, October 18, 2015

LOVELESS IN LOS ANGELES -- Movie Review by Porfle

(NOTE: This review originally appeared online in 2007.)

LOVELESS IN LOS ANGELES (2007) is a spoof of romantic comedies, as the title suggests. (I'll let you guess which particular film it's referencing.) The main character, Dave (Dash Mihok, THE PERFECT STORM, HOLLYWOODLAND), describes himself in the opening voiceover as "an asshole", which is a good sign since assholes can be pretty funny in comedies.

 But he wasn't always one; ten years ago, while attending college, he was a really nice guy. That's when he fell hopelessly in love with the beautiful Kelly (JOE DIRT's dream babe, Brittany Daniel) and was crushed when he found out she had a boyfriend. Biding his time while playing "the friend" for three years, Dave was re-crushed when Kelly announced her engagement.

This drove him to Los Angeles, where he became co-producer of a sleazy reality dating show called "Double Date" in which the participants are encouraged to act like wild dogs in heat for the camera. And, in the pursuit of loveless and joyless sex on the soul-deadening L.A. dating scene during the course of the next seven years, he also became--an asshole.

 Fast forward to the present, when Dave runs into Kelly again. She's an actress now, looking for work in L.A. She's also divorced, which makes the little gears in Dave's head turn round and round. This would be the perfect chance to try and win her love at last--if only he were still the nice guy he was when she knew him before. But he isn't--he's an asshole! Oh, cruel fate!

Then, after the bar-and-bed-hopping, love-'em-and-leave-'em lifestyle begins to lose its luster for him, Dave's only chance to make it with Kelly is to beg her to help him revert back to Mr. Nice Guy again.

 The real conflict begins when Dave's evil, heartless-bitch partner, Gwen (Navi Rawat, "The O.C.") tricks Kelly into appearing on "Double Date" and then spikes her drink, causing Kelly to turn into a boob-flashing, chunk-hurling poster child for Girls Gone Really Wild. Dave is aghast when he sees the tape the next day and tries to have the episode deep-sixed, but with sweeps coming up, his malaprop-spewing boss Jon (Stephen Tobolowsky, MEMENTO'S "Sammy Jenkis") won't hear of it. So Dave and his friends must make a nocturnal commando raid on the studio and replace the tape before it's too late.

 All of this sounds potentially rather raucous, but LOVELESS IN LOS ANGELES is a pretty low-key comedy. The jokes are plentiful, and they're great; they just don't get in your face like a fat, screaming comedian with spittle flying out of his mouth. It's hard to believe this is Dash Mihok's first starring role in a comedy--he's so deadpan funny, whether giving Kelly a play-by-play of the familiar dating rituals occurring around them in a restaurant, or demonstrating why it's better to insult a beautiful woman in a bar rather than compliment her. Watching Dave apply his cold, calculated pickup techniques to various unsuspecting women (some richly deserving of it, some not) is extremely amusing.

 As Kelly, Brittany Daniel shows a real knack for acting convincingly dramatic within a comedy setting--she's a very skilled actress who can play straight to the wackier characters and still be funny herself. Plus, she's awesomely hot, but in an accessible way. The smokin' Navi Rawat, on the other hand, would make a really awesome dominatrix and I wouldn't mind licking her boots while she gave me a good, hard spanking. (Did I just say that?)

On the "male actor in a supporting role" front, there's the very funny Geoffrey Arend as Dave's roommate Ryan, James Lesure as ladies' man Clint, and Chris Coppola as the rotund, snack-scarfing film editor, Freddie.

 One of the things this movie does best is to turn cliches on their heads. The characters somehow seem to know they're in a romantic comedy movie (at one point, Dave stops doing his voiceover because he hates voiceovers), so they expect certain things to happen in certain established ways, and when they don't, it baffles them. A good example of this comes near the end when Dave gets a phone call telling him that Kelly is on her way to the airport to fly out of his life forever.

He knows that this is his big "I've gotta race there and stop her!" moment, just like we've seen in so many other movies, and an emotional rock song begins to swell in the background as he sprints purposefully toward the front door. But when he pulls it open, he finds her already standing there, about to knock. The music cuts short. He's happy to see her, of course, but shocked that his big dramatic scene has been aborted.

 The DVD features a good commentary track with Mihok and writer-director Archie Gips (who was actually a longtime senior segment producer on the TV series "Blind Date"), plus a bunch of bloopers and deleted scenes that are essential viewing if you liked the movie. They contain extensions of scenes that appear in the movie plus some new ones that should have. [NOTE: Not sure what extras the current DVD editions of LOVELESS IN LOS ANGELES may have, if any.]

The original script apparently had the characters breaking the fourth wall a lot more, which is especially funny when Dave gets into a heated argument with his own voiceover after it calls him a "dick." But even with all this good stuff cut out and stuffed into the bonus menu, LOVELESS IN LOS ANGELES is a delightfully amusing movie that you should check out, whether you're an asshole yourself or you just like to laugh at them.


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