Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Two Night Stand (2014)

Director: Max Nichols                                       Writer: Mark Hammer
Film Score: The de Luca Brothers                   Cinematography: Bobby Bukowski
Starring: Miles Teller, Analeigh Tipton, Jessica Szohr and Scott Mescudi

This is most definitely a low-brow romantic comedy. There is nothing original, nothing clever, nothing that we haven’t seen before a million times. And yet . . . First of all, I was intrigued by the premise. The idea that a one-night stand turns into an enforced, long-terms stay was enough to draw me in. And frankly, I was fully expecting to turn the thing off after a few minutes. What this film has going for it, though, is that it doesn’t make any missteps, though there are land mines aplenty to be found all along the way. The film Better Than Sex, for instance, has a similar set up but is a chore to get through. Two Night Stand, on the other hand, flows along effortlessly, without turning into a Judd Apatow piece of garbage. And that’s a welcome surprise. With audiences today seemingly willing to pay money to see the worst possible excuse for humor, Mark Hammer’s screenplay manages to walk a fine line between commercial and crass and stays on the right side of the line for the entire ninety minutes. At the same time the actors are up for the challenge, not necessarily great, but never lapsing into the kind of exaggeration that something like Bridget Jones’s Diary goes to. While utterly unbelievable as a premise, there’s a suspension of disbelief available to anyone willing to keep watching. And that’s saying something in today’s wretched romantic comedy climate.

The film begins in the apartment of Miles Teller. Analeigh Tipton wakes up in his bed, regretful, and tries to sneak out after pinning a note to his bulletin board. But when the alarm goes of she scurries back to bed before it wakes him up. Flash back twelve hours and Tipton is sitting in her apartment, jobless, filling out an online dating profile. Her roommate Jessica Szohr shows up and tells her that unless she can put her name on the lease Tipton will need to move out so that her boyfriend Scott Mescudi can move in. They all go to a birthday party but when Tipton can’t find her I.D., she winds up back at the apartment trolling for a one-night stand. She connects with Miles Teller, and then it flashes forward to the next morning. Teller turns off the alarm and goes back to sleep-Tipton still in her coat and jeans in bed. When he finally wakes up she tries to leave on a positive note, but the two clearly have contempt for each other and things end badly as she leaves. Or tries to. When she get’s to the front door of the building it’s covered with snow and iced shut. The city had a blizzard the night before and all of the transit systems are down. With nowhere else to go, the two are stuck together in his apartment, grinning and baring it until they can separate. From there, it’s not difficult to guess where the film goes.

Despite the predictability, Mark Hammer still manages to put in some nice twists at the end that are incredibly refreshing, and the frank discussion of sex between the two principals never becomes an embarrassment. It should also be no surprise that the director of the film, Max Nichols, is the son of director Mike Nichols, and apparently shares the same eye for solid comedy as his father. Nichols recognized something in the screenplay immediately that was more than the usual Hollywood dross. His first casting choice was Analeigh Tipton, which also shows his talent. She has the perfect look and does a terrific job without being overly clichéd in the way so many of these roles can become. Miles Teller is also a great choice, but again, the screenplay has a lot to do with his willingness to go along with Tipton, to not get sullen or angry, and to see in her something that he didn’t at first. He would go on later that year to positive notices in Whiplash. One of the fascinating things about the production is that during shooting Tipton and Teller were staying in an apartment in a New York apartment downtown when Hurricane Sandy hit and were stranded there together without power, replicating their onscreen predicament. It may not be original, or even particularly good, but Two Night Stand has a charm that is undeniable and is well worth taking a look at.

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