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July 12, 2016

Two Night Stand

by Franz Patrick


Two Night Stand (2014)
★★ / ★★★★

“Two Night Stand,” written by Mark Hammer and directed by Max Nichols, is yet another one of those romantic comedies aimed at twenty-somethings with a gimmicky premise but without anything substantial to communicate—whether it be about modern relationships, hook-up culture, the plight that recent college graduates encounter when attempting to secure a stable job in a field they studied, or how one sex perceives the opposite sex. It offers a few amusing moments because the two leads have a natural charm about them, but the screenplay lacks the ambition to make a statement about a specific generation.

Aimless and without a job, premed college graduate Megan (Analeigh Tipton) decides to make an online dating profile as an attempt to get back out there after a recent breakup with a high school sweetheart. She begins an online conversation with Alec (Miles Teller)—who sounds like a normal, funny guy—and soon she is invited to his apartment for casual sex. The next morning, Megan tries to sneak out to no avail due to a hurricane-force blizzard. New Yorkers are advised to stay indoors. It seems Megan has no choice but to stay with her acquaintance in the meantime.

For the majority of the picture’s running time, we are given no insight into the characters—especially problematic for the protagonist because she often comes across as snarky, opportunistic, spoiled. She becomes relatable only about halfway through as she talks about how she’d realized she’d been foolish to make decisions around a then-serious boyfriend who eventually changed his mind. Tipton excels during the more dramatic moments because she has certain girl-next-door quality about her; when she tells Alec her thoughts, feelings, and intentions, she sounds like a friend rather than a performer who must utter certain lines after specific pauses.

On the other hand, Teller doesn’t have to do much because his character’s function is, for the most part, to act as a sounding board so that our heroine would be pushed to get out of the rut that she has spent too much time languishing in. There is a sweet chemistry between Teller and Tipton, but I felt as though the writing fails on a consistent basis to match the actors’ intelligence and authenticity. Expected trappings of independent comedies involving meet-cute run amok here which all comes across as tired and disingenuous.

A simpler, more honest approach would have elevated the work. Why not just have the two meet, have casual sex, and do a bit of self-reflection about their lives since they are forced to spend time with one another? Instead, the writer feels the need to have them get on each other’s nerves, argue, reconcile, and the schtick repeats two or three times only to end up in a predictable destination. One suspects the reason is to pad the project in attempt to fit to a standard ninety-minute running time.

And that’s precisely the problem. Successful movies that belong under a similar sub-genre do not feel the need to fit in, technically or in terms of content. Their main interest is to make a specific statement about a defined group of people. Once the message, or messages, is made, the movie ends as it should without feeling the need to make the viewers feel good or enable some sort of fantasy about romance or relationships.

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