A great cast cannot save the dramatically inert and totally inept rom-com “Alex & The List,” which is short on both the rom and the com. Directed by Harris Goldberg, who co-wrote the script with Kristen D’Alessio, the film stars Patrick Fugit as Alex, a dog trainer who would do anything for love, even fulfill an inane list his girlfriend Katherine (Jennifer Morrison) presents to him, designed to turn him into the perfect man.
The list is full of such extreme and superficial tasks as “whiten teeth,” “convert to Judaism” (ritual circumcision included), “buy a Porsche,” “start drinking,” and “like sports.” So essentially, become someone totally different. Alex initially balks, but when he spots the competition, suave optometrist Antonio Rosenblatt (Gilles Marini), he takes to the list with determination, if not gusto.
The story is ostensibly about learning to accept yourself for who you are, and not changing your personality for a relationship, but it’s clear from the outset that Alex and Katherine were never going to work. We never believe in their love, so the whole list just seems like a futile endeavor. Watching the film is an exercise in waiting for the protagonists to realize this.
The film is so slow and oddly paced that not a single joke lands. There are moments when the script attempts to push boundaries with edgy “cultural” humor, but it’s just painful. The twiddling acoustic score that sounds like a generic public-domain tune doesn’t help. The cast, which also includes Karen Gillan, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Aaron Staton, JoBeth Williams and Bob Gunton, just can’t get out from under the somnambulant, stereotypical sludge.
‘Alex & The List’
Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills