Overweight comedian James (Jeff Garlin) struggles to shed pounds, land respectable acting jobs and meet women. As he works to score a role in a modern remake of his favorite movie, the 1955 Best Picture winner "Marty," James meets an aggressive, kooky brunette (Sarah Silverman) and a soft-spoken, friendly blonde (Bonnie Hunt).
Big question: Can Garlin's ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") feature debut as a writer and director achieve the same idiosyncratic humor as "Curb"?
Skip it: A guy who lives with his mom, can't stick to a diet and can't hold a job doesn't have much to offer women, so James' romantic problems aren't absorbing, just pathetic. While romantic comedies often sink or swim on a handful of memorable moments, "Cheese" barely has a plot worth unwrapping or anything sweet that doesn't feel taken from a pilot for a quickly canceled TV show.
Catch it: If you're also a struggling actor forced to take a job as a hot dog-selling pirate in order to settle a debt with a pal. Who says "hot dog-selling pirate" wasn't the part you were born to play?
Bottom line: The best bits in "Cheese" sound like stand-up material--James asks a woman at a car dealership, "What is it about tents that make people want to buy cars?"--and can't compensate for a script that treats coincidence and contrivance like expert writing tactics. Garlin's clearly inspired by his own experiences living as someone who's fat and funny, but being honest isn't the same thing as being perceptive.
Bonus: If you think Hollywood romances are in denial about their own, er, cheesiness, something more direct is on the way. When James goes on an audition, a poster in the background advertises for the next hit romantic comedy, titled: "Heartfelt Sap."
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With'Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times