Apple TV+ have done it again, pulled out another blinder of a movie, this one, from Cooper Raiff (“Madeline & Cooper”, “Freshman Year”) who writes, directs, stars and produces, is an absolute joy.
Cha Cha Real Smooth is about giving your heart away, getting it broken, wanting to be happy, wanting others to be happy, finding yourself, helping others find themselves and that sometimes, it can be hard growing up.
Raiff has created something that is equal parts comedy, drama and may even bring you to tears on a couple of occasions.
Raiff plays Andrew, a 22-year old who is directionless after College. His girlfriend heads off to Barcelona, he wants to find a really awesome non-profit to work in, cut to him working at Meat Sticks for minimum wage.
He lives with his mother, Leslie Mann (“Motherless Brooklyn”, “Welcome to Marwen”), and step-father Greg, Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond (TV)”, “Single Parents (TV)”), and younger brother David, Evan Assante (“Wild Indian”, “Dinosaur World”).
It’s David who inadvertently winds up finding his older brother a new career when he asks him to take him to his friend’s bar-mitzvah, which is more like a wake. Andrew, who is forever smiling, jolly and always appears to want the best from everything, decides he’s going to get the party started and kicks-off his career as the ‘Jig Conductor’ aka the party starter.
It’s at this first bar-mitzvah where he also meets Domino, Dakota Johnson (“The Peanut Butter Falcon”, “Bad Times at the El Royale”), and her autistic daughter Lola, Vanessa Burghardt, and he is instantly smitten with the pair of them.
To keep his mind, and other body parts occupied, whilst back home he’s seeing an old school friend Macy, Odeya Rush (“Lady Bird”, “Goosebumps”). Which helps whilst he’s seeing photos of his girlfriend in Barcelona, seemingly with another man.
What follows is lots of lovely and sometimes very funny moments between Andrew, Lola and Domino or Andrew and David or Andrew and his mother.
He gets to know Lola and they become close, as he does with Domino, there’s definitely a chemistry but, initially, Andrew pulls back, he doesn’t want to, but he does. But there’ll be plenty of further opportunities, whether they take them, where they will end up, you’ll just have to check it out and find out for yourselves, but the journey to get there is brilliant.
I was initially sceptical about Cha Cha Real Smooth, there wasn’t an awful lot written about it from the PR people, the description seemed ‘light’, but it’s a beautiful movie. It’s well written, well performed and could have ended about three times but I’m glad it didn’t and carried on.
Vanessa Burghardt is superb throughout, whilst Raiff is loveable and likeable (although I can also see how some might not like his happy-go-lucky attitude), whilst Mann shines, stealing scenes with aplomb leaving Johnson with some heavy lifting in the emotional stakes which she more than hits out of the park.
The light mix of comedy and drama in this most adult of coming of age movies really gives Cha Cha Real Smooth a delightful feel and makes it a joy to watch. If there’s a gripe, and there has to be one doesn’t there? The sound isn’t great, dialogue can be hard to catch at times, and some scenes feel overly dark, but this is nitpicking in what is otherwise a delight.
17th June 2022
THE QUICK SELL
A young man who works as a Bar Mitzvah party host strikes up a friendship with a mother and her autistic daughter.