A man screws up on a transcontinental level in a noble effort to win back “the one.”
So my second visit to the Edinburgh Film Festival came at its Gala Closing Premiere, at the rather grand but acoustically inept (for cinema anyway) Festival Theatre. The film was presented to us by The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg, who stars, writes, produces and directs the film along with his co-director and wife Jocelyn Towne. In presenting the film to us both seemed strangely unenthusiastic about what is clearly a vanity project for them (the film is billed as a true story about the two of them) and after seeing it I can perhaps see why.
Helberg plays Quinn, a geeky florist with an eye condition that forces him to wear specialist sunglasses, although seemingly only when a cheap visual laugh is wanted. Quinn wants to propose to his girlfriend Devon (Melanie Lynskey) but struggles to find the right moment and ends up sleeping with attractive co-worker Kelsey (Maggie Grace) after an argument with Devon. Seriously. Maggie Grace seduces Howard from TBBT. Come on. Anyway, naturally this doesn’t go down well with Devon and off she goes to Paris where the fun begins. Or not.
For what is essentially a comedy, I only laughed once. And that was literally in the final scene at a joke about 9/11. The audience in the packed theatre seemed to love it though, with laughs at every single minor gag. My only reasoning behind that is that they had paid £15 to attend a gala premiere and by God they were going to enjoy it regardless. That doesn’t wash with me. The storyline is predictable, there are set ups for later jokes which might as well have flashing lights and a sign saying “REMEMBER THIS FOR LATER”, and the acting is average at best – with Zachary Quinto and Alfred Molina dialling in performances and Helberg himself aiming for Woody Allen but simply being wooden.
I would be very surprised if this movie gets a mainstream release. I’m sure it’ll do reasonably well on i-tunes and Netflix with fans of TBBT, but the film simply isn’t good enough to pack out multiplexes.
Review by Richard Mason
Directed By: Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne
Starring: Simon Helberg, Melanie Lynskey, Maggie Grace, Jason Ritter, Zachary Quinto and Alfred Molina