If it had an ounce of buoyancy, “Girl on a Bicycle” might qualify as a diverting piffle. But Jeremy Leven’s attempt at old-school romantic comedy, set in a postcard-pretty tourist’s vision of Paris, is more of a foolish plod than a weightless rollick.
The Euro-pudding of a premise concerns Italian tour bus driver Paolo, his German flight attendant fiancée and the title character, a French model who catches his eye as she crisscrosses the city fetchingly on two wheels. The alleged hilarity grinds into gear when Paolo accidentally hits the bicyclist with his bus, then pretends to be her husband to visit her in the hospital.
His infatuation evaporates, along with any hope for an involving story, and he slips into responsibility mode after discovering that she’s a single mother with no support system. Sneaking away to play papa to the model’s wisdom-spouting kids while her broken bones heal, Paolo arouses his girlfriend’s suspicions.
Vincenzo Amato is fumbling and sweet as the semi-clueless Paolo, while Nora Tschirner (as the significant other) and Louise Monot (as the object of desire) mug prettily if not convincingly. In the stock role of the party guy who dispenses terrible relationship advice, Paddy Considine does what’s expected.
Unlike Leven’s first directing stint, the Johnny Depp-Marlon Brando comedy “Don Juan DeMarco,” “Girl” lacks the oomph to bring its low-key loopiness to life. Its European stereotypes and guys-do-the-darnedest-things sense of wackiness feel antiquated rather than winkingly retro. Too earnest to be satisfyingly frothy, it ends up merely forgettable.
“Girl on a Bicycle”
MPAA rating: R for sexuality, nudity and language; in English and in French, Italian and German with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Playing: At Laemmle’s Town Center 5, Encino; Downtown Independent, Los Angeles; Crest Theatre, Westwood (Saturday only).