For some people romantic comedies seem to fit into being described by the saying, ‘You seen one, than you seen them all’. while there is some validity to that supposition every so often a rom-com comes along that allows you to feel some sense of having been entertained instead of just harmlessly passing the time. I was pleasantly surprised recently when I had such an experience watching ‘Falling Up’ for its American straight to DVD release. I freely admit that I didn’t think much about it when I received it; the box cover is a beautiful young woman standing in an elevator while he is wearing some sort of doorman’s uniform. I rolled my eyes and consigned myself to make the best of it and began watching. First of all there are a limited number of fundamental premises afforded to the writer engaged in this genre. This one falls into a time honored one; ‘love blossoming between rival factions. ‘Romeo & Juliette’ is the prime example with more variations than can possibly be counted. The main reason this is possible is the plethora of ways available to keep a pair of potential lovers apart. This film draws on another timeless way to segregate people; social class. You might think that ‘All Men are created Equal’ and it does look good when written on centuries old parchment but the reality of the situation is some folk are just a lot more equal than others. Even in our rather free society class distinctions do exist and play a vital part in the direction our lives take. This little movie seemingly came out of nowhere and captivated me almost immediately. There is a gentle underlying nature to the movie that drew me in for a far better time than I could have anticipated. While this is not a great film and will not make any top flick lists it is head and shoulders above its peers as good old fashion fun.
The film was directed by David M. Rosenthal who also co-authored this screenplay with Joseph M. Smith. Previously Rosenthal helmed some shorts and a documentary and both men had worked together on a number of screenplays. It is evident by examining some of the subtleties found in the general construction of the script here that the men were used to engaging in the creative process as a team. While the number of examples there is a noticeable ease to the flow on the story that exhibits a singular narrative voice. This is extremely useful in assisting the audience connects emotionally with the protagonist. it is a common situation to apply yourself diligently and scarcely make any progress in your career while others seem to ‘fall up’; happen to be in the right place to be swept upward on a tide of happenstance leaving you in its wake. A more benign for of this phenomenon is seen here is the recipient of this good fortune happens to be a nice guy that is sufficiently likable that on some level you’re glad that fate has intervened in his behalf. It’s this dynamic of personality and circumstances that provide much of the charm afforded by this movie.
It does show here with a nice tightly crafted screenplay. Henry O'Shea (Joseph Cross) is an affable young man diligently working to complete his degree in nursing. His family life is turned upside down when Henry began having trouble with his grades and decides to take a break from school and get a job. He winds up working for an old friend of his father, George (Joe Pantoliano), as a doorman at a swanky Fifth Avenue apartment building. The most important rule is no fraternization with the tenants. Henry thinks this will be easy, that is until his path crosses the daughter of one particularly snobby tenant. The young woman, Scarlett Dowling (Sarah Roemer), is beautiful, cultured, rich and completely out of reach for Henry. This does commission on one of the main tropes of a romantic comedy, forbidden fruit. The young woman is undeniably attractive but the fact that any overtures towards a relationship are strictly forbidden does seem to quickly erode any resistance that Henry might have.
Back at home Henry’ family is trying their best to make ends meet. His mom, Grace (Annette O'Toole), has to return to the work force after twenty years. She winds up working behind the counter at an adult video store much to the chagrin of Henry. His sister Catlin (Rachael Leigh Cook) takes on walking a huge pack of dogs to make a few bucks. As a doorman Henry learns the routine from the more experienced Raul (Snoop Dogg) who explains to Henry the subtle art of kissing up to the wealthy. In a rom-com of this nature it is possible to get away with all more plot contrivances and overly convenient plot points than the most any other genre. As it so happens Scarlett is rapidly growing tired of the puerile antics of her rich but completely worthless boyfriend Jake (Daniel Newman). With the parents in the other room Jake sneaks off to the bathroom and overdoses on cocaine. Scarlett remembers that she had just witnessed Henry save the life of a dog belonging to one of the other tenants and that he has at least a practical knowledge of medical technique. She rushes to call him at the front desk ask for his help. He rushes upstairs and managers to revive Jake to the complete surprise of Raul; Paul refuses to accept a very lucrative tip for saving Scarlett’s drug addict boyfriend’s life. Scarlett offers to take him out as a thank you but when the service manager, George (Joe Pantoliano) finds out Henry is summarily dismissed. He tells Scarlett that Fifth Avenue will never mix with Flatbush Avenue and they can never see each other, Catlin decides to step in and convinces her brother to go for it and pursue Scarlett.
The film is pleasant providing an entertaining evening. Much of this is due to the chemistry between the leads which is much more believable than most films of this sort. The pacing is clear cut hitting each of the required notes precisely at the proper moment. When this is combined with a script that affords a firm foundation for the talented cast you wind up with a little gem. Not every movie has to be a box office juggernaut or tainted cult status with the fans and critics in order to be counted as a success. This is especially true with from romantic comedies provide design never intended to be suitable as a date movie. This film sure that watching this with your date she will be in a far better frame of mind than if you had gone to the latest Michael Bay movie. It is completely acceptable for even the toughest guys to accede with their softer side and permit the opportunity to enjoy a bit of overly opportunistic fluff by giving in to the gentle appeal of a movie like this one. No matter ho much you enjoy the hard hitting action and amazing special affects you will discover that experiencing a easy going movie will help reset your appreciation for the intensities of the high octane explosion fest.
Posted 12/29/09 07/11/2016