"Playing It Cool" is a strained romantic comedy that seems to exist only to show how many talented, successful actors — first and foremost "Captain America" star Chris Evans — can be featured in one unworthy movie.
You know you're in trouble when almost every character is given a name except the two leads. Here, that would be narrator Evans, billed simply as Me, playing perhaps the world's worst working screenwriter, and Michelle Monaghan as Her, the unavailable object of his affection.
The writing's instantly on the wall for these two friends with semi-benefits. Rom-com convention aside, the movie has all the tension of Silly String.
The love-challenged Me's frantic, mixed-up efforts to befriend or seduce Her, only to get hoisted by his own petard, make up the bulk of the unconvincing action. That is, when we're not being treated to a dizzying, unfunny series of flashbacks and fantasies.
Despite some sharp banter and sparkly turns by a game Evans and the always-welcome Monaghan, it becomes a tedious ride.
Director Justin Reardon and writers Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair have a vast cast that includes Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson and Martin Starr as Me's eccentric-annoying circle of writer pals; Anthony Mackie as his ebullient agent, Ioan Gruffudd as Her's stuffy fiancé and Philip Baker Hall as Me's wise granddad. Matthew Morrison, Ashley Tisdale, Beverly D'Angelo and others pop up in dispensable cameos.
'Playing It Cool'
MPAA rating: R, for language, sexual content.
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena. Also on VOD.