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Anti-romantic comedy 'On the Rocks' is a fine showcase for actors

Anti-romantic comedy 'On the Rocks' is a fine showcase for actors
Chase Fein and Nichole Bagby in the film "On the Rocks." (FilmBuff)

The title doesn't even begin to describe the sorry state of the relationship on display in "On the Rocks," a shrill but often funny anti-romantic comedy from L.A. filmmakers Alex Kavutskiy and Ariel Gardner.

As the constantly bickering couple in question, there's no doubt that Dallas (Chase Fein), a sad-sack car mechanic, and his terminally whining wife. Karen (Nicole Bagby), a nursing student, are on the express train to Splitsville.

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The dysfunction only worsens when they move into his childhood home following the death of his recently departed father. They're soon joined by Karen's Lolita of a little sister, Kaitlynn (Audrey Whitby), and her boyfriend (Aaron Kee), while Dallas also finds himself in the crossfire of Karen's over-protective big sister, Krystal (Kate Freund).

While the film, which started out as a 2013 short on Alex & Ariel's Channel 101 online, gives us nothing to see why Dallas and Karen could have ever been attracted to each other to begin with, it does serve as a terrific showcase for the comedic talents of its ensemble, especially Freund, Bagby and the Ray Romano-esque Fein.

It's ultimately in those rare moments when that strident, amped-up Woody Allen pitch gives way to some more tenderly observed asides that "On the Rocks" hints at finding an agreeable satirical voice all its own.

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'On the Rocks'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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