Falling Up
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Falling Up

For some people romantic comedies seem to fit into being described by the saying, ‘You seen than you’ve 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-wrote with Joseph M. Smith. Previously Rosenthal helmed some shorts and a documentary and both men had worked together on a couple of screenplays. It shows in the script here that the men were used to engaging in the creative process as a team. 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. The life family is turned upside down with the Henry was 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.

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) covers the details of kissing up to the rich. Scarlett is rapidly growing tired of the antics of her rich but ultimately worthless boyfriend Jake (Daniel Newman). With the parents in the other room Jake sneaks off to the bathroom and overdoses on cocaine. Scarlett had just seen Henry save the life of a dog in the building and knows about his medical training and calls down to the front desk for his help. Her managers to revive Jake and to the complete surprise of Raul refuses to accept a very large tip for saving somebody’s life. Scarlett offers to take him out as a thank you but when George finds out Henry is fired. 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.

Posted 12/29/09

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