Sunday, September 30, 2012

No, It Is Just An Average Homo-Rom-Com: "Is It Just Me?" (2010)

Not being a fan of Janeane Garofalo, I have never seen "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," her romantic comedy with Uma Thurman. However, I have read plot summaries and heard word-of-mouth, and while "Is It Just Me?" is not a bad film, it hurts that the two stories are so similar.

Blaine (Nicholas Downs) writes an anonymous column for USA Togay, a free paper in Los Angeles. He is on the search for true love, shunning the one night stands and gay bars frequented by his hot-to-trot roommate Cameron (Adam Huss). Online, Blaine meets Xander (David Loren), a Texan new in town. The two have hours-long telephone conversations, phone sex, and finally decide to meet face to face. Unfortunately, Xander thinks plain Blaine looks like go-go dancer Cameron (Cameron used Blaine's laptop and didn't log out of his account), and Blaine is afraid to tell the truth and face rejection.

The misunderstandings snowball as Cameron takes up the challenge, pitting his physical looks against Blaine's brains. Xander is none the wiser, although he notices that the Blaine on the phone seems a bit different from the Blaine in person. Blaine lets the lie escalate, failing at his one chance for the true love he has always been searching for.

J.C. Calciano wrote and directed, and needs to write a thank-you note to casting director Mark Sikes. The main trio of actors are absolutely perfect, charming in every way. Downs is so down to earth and nice as Blaine, the viewer cannot help but hope he finds what he wants. Huss' Cameron is shallow and a bit crass, but is never a douchebag looking to hurt Blaine. Xander is also a likable character, and Loren plays him without a flaw. Downs and Loren have a natural chemistry together, and they are supported by a nice turn by character actor Bruce Gray (you have seen him on television thousands of times) as Ernie, Xander's friend and landlord. I wish Michelle (Michelle Laurent), Blaine's best friend, had been given more to do, but Laurent does what she can with the limited role.

Calciano doesn't infuse his film with any urgency. You can guess the plot points from the beginning, we even get a nice standard rom-com score from Christopher Farrell, but everything is telegraphed and predictable. If the lead actors hadn't been so damn nice, I would have knocked off a couple of stars from my rating. Given the limited budget, Calciano's direction is very strong.

"Is It Just Me?" has appeal and heart, but no, Blaine, it isn't just you. Your story has been done before. (* * *) out of five stars.