30th Jan2015

‘Two Night Stand’ Review

by Mark Allen

Stars: Analeigh Tipton, Miles Teller, Jessica Szohr, Scott Mescudi, Josh Salatin, Kellyn Lindsay, Michael Showalter, Leven Rambin, Joey Lauren Adams | Written by Mark Hammer | Directed by Max Nichols

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During The Theory of Everything, I could have sworn I saw the plot of Two Night Stand chalked up on one of Eddie Redmayne’s blackboards. Then I squinted and laughed at my own stupidity; Professor Stephen Hawking may have worked with formulas, but he would have never come up with one so predictable and wholly unoriginal.

This may come as a surprise to you (prepare your gasps), but there aren’t a whole lot of romantic comedies that try breaking the mould when it comes to story, characters and (especially) heartfelt speeches.

And so it goes with Two Night Stand, a harmless enough story about a pair of strangers (Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller on agreeable if fairly bland form) who hook up through online dating and discover their personalities clash the next morning. Their plans to rectify this by never seeing one another again are thrown into chaos by a freak snowstorm (read: act of god plot device #42) that binds them to Teller’s apartment and each other, much to their chagrin but our supposed delight. So far, so Meg Ryan.

The couple’s initial antagonism is negligible and results in half-hearted barbs and literal toilet humour, but things only start to get marginally interesting when the pair decide to put their forced co-habitation to good use by critiquing one another’s sexual performance the night before. This leads to an entertainingly candid discussion of some of the stereotypical bedroom grievances heterosexual couples tend to have. Of course, the leads want to put this newfound knowledge to the test and decide to experiment one more time in a sex scene that feels more like a perfume ad than a no-holds-barred lovemaking session.

Now the lovebirds are together again, but that doesn’t last long because the guy has to screw up and really upset the girl with some minor revelation and make a grand gesture in order to win her over for good. All that happens and it’s fine, I guess, but I didn’t exactly care all that much. No, not even when Tipton’s sex-crazed roommates return to add some broad comic relief, nor when Teller’s [SPOILER] shows up to serve a purely plot-functional purpose and then leave despite said person being kind of integral to his character’s arc.

All of this would be fine if the script by Mark Hammer had been more engaging and adventurous with the direction it sent the characters in. As it stands the two leads do an admirable job of making the will-they-won’t-they-oh-give-it-a-rest bearable and even occasionally charming, but Max Nichols’ flat, lifeless direction adds exactly nothing to this mix except smatterings of schmaltz here and there (a solo dance sequence Tipton performs while Teller watches from behind a sheet is one particularly queasy moment).

This fact is made all the more disappointing when you realise that Max is the son of the late Mike Nichols, who I can only hope didn’t get to see an early cut of his scion’s debut before passing on. You’d hope a Nichols movie would at least retain some of that brilliant mixture of cynicism and naïveté Mike did so well, but the nearest Max can get is a few repeated cuss words and the lovelorn doe eyes of his lead actress.

Two Night Stand isn’t the worst romcom I’ve ever seen, but it ranks up there with the blandest, and I’d much prefer a film made me feel loathing rather than total indifference for it, so its inoffensiveness sort of offends me. On the bright side, I’m seeing Whiplash tonight so hopefully this movie will serve as something of a palate cleanser. It’s safe to say they probably won’t be putting that on the DVD cover.

Two Night Stand is released in cinemas and on demand across the UK on 13th February.

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