Nothing haunts a writer more than the fear of a blank page. It’s taunting you. Daring you to fill it. And sometimes we can rise to the occasion and do just that. Other times, the fear gets to us and wins. Beside the cajoling of the bare canvas, sometimes all it takes to inspire us is a new someone. Relationships at any form can inspire the mind to run and the words to flow. And in Henrique Couto’s latest romantic comedy MAKING OUT, we get to see how one screen writer takes a chance meeting and turns it into the inspiration he needs.
Charlie is a screen writer, living a quiet life of jogging, working out, going to the theater, and of course, writing. He’s doing what he’s always wanted to do, but something is still missing. Sure, he’s getting regular work from his producer, but his spec script for a romantic film is constantly being passed over. Charlie is a good guy, smart, charming, but he has high standards and hasn’t had the best of luck in the dating game.
After casting an actress for a pickup shot for his producer, he meets Erin. Erin has a sharp wit, a shared interest in classic love stories, and a scheming mind. It isn’t long before the two concoct an idea to stage their own romance. Write up scenarios akin to the ones from older romantic films and then act them out. Sort of a love placebo. As long as they stick to the rules, they will get their love jones filled and come out unscathed, right? If you have seen ANY romantic comedies, then you know that isn’t the case.
“You know, if we were born 70 years earlier, no problem.” “I don’t think you could have voted 70 years earlier.”
Where most romantic comedies plod along a familiar path, MAKING OUT gleefully skips down it, reveling in the clichéd tropes. Yes, clichés usually lead to tired, uninspired material, but with this film Couto goes a little paisley and tie-dye rather than doing a standard paint-by-numbers. By using the career of Charlie as a constant piece, it allows for the film to step away from hitting us over the head with the faux-mance and gives us a chance to know more about him. I can’t help but feel that this is one of Couto’s more personal films using Charlie as his avatar.
Besides a strongly written script, with jokes that hit home even after a second viewing, we also get a strong performance from our leads. Titus Young Wolverton, playing Charlie, is exactly what you want as a romantic lead. He’s handsome, charming, and quick wilted, but still shows a little fallibility. He’s not perfect, but you sure want to see him win the day.
And with Erin, played by Erin R. Ryan, you get the ultimate girl. Someone willing to go through goofy stunts, digs the mushy stuff, but doesn’t freak out at dick and fart jokes. In fact, she probably knows better ones than you do. Also, she looks pretty damn great in a cocktail dress and has, as Charlie’s mom keeps reminding us, perfect breasts. Ryan has been in 10 released films since 2014, with 4 more on the way (including this film). Having seen a good majority of them, I’m pleased to see that not one single performance has been like the previous. Yes, she has her mannerisms that carry over, but she does a great job of becoming the character and doing so fearlessly.
“Make your move, BIRCH!” (Looks at notes) “BITCH!”
The remaining cast of characters is just that. A bunch of characters. There are too many gags to mention just my favorites, but everyone from the producer (played by director Jeff Burr, LEATHERFACE, PUMPKINHEAD II) to the priest played by Adam Scott Clevenger has memorable lines and killer delivery of punchlines. I recently heard a quote by Michael Dougherty saying that a horror film is a success if you can take the horror away from the situation and still can enjoy the film. In this case, MAKING OUT is a successful romantic comedy if you took out the romance, as the cast delivers laughs throughout.
As for the fear of the blank page, like life, if you don’t at least try, then why even bother? But make sure that you bother checking out MAKING OUT.
The film premieres February 5th at the By-Jo Theater in Germantown, OH (location for many scenes in the film). Details can be found here. It is also available for pre-sale for both DVD and Blu-ray directly from Couto here.