The Right One

★★

“The Right One” (now available in select theaters and on VOD) was sold to me as a romantic comedy and it is one … sorta. It’s also predominantly a melodrama about grief.

Sara (Cleopatra Coleman of “The Last Man on Earth”) is a successful Seattle-based romance novelist suffering from writer’s block. She’s being pressured to produce by her agent and friend Kelly (comedienne Iliza Shlesinger). Inspiration strikes when she comes across Godfrey (comedian Nick Thune, best known to me for appearances on the Doug Loves Movies podcast and sorta resembling Karl Urban or Adam Scott on growth hormones) … or one iteration of him.

Sara first encounters Godfrey at an art exhibit opening where he’s posing as both pretentious art critic and pretentious artist … such versatility! She happens upon him again the following day when he’s performing as a singing cowboy in the park. Sara approaches Godfrey wanting to chat. He in turn invites her to his evening gig where he’s performing in drag as a blonde-wigged Iowa hayseed fresh off the bus. Sara again attempts to engage Godfrey. He in turn invites her to an all-night rave where he’s spinning records sporting a plush kitty head. Sara later meets Godfrey’s other personas – Matteo the Argentine ballroom dancer and slam poet Tim Demint.

Audiences also get a glimpse into the other aspects of Godfrey’s life. He successfully works as mohawked, free-spirited, over-the-phone salesman G-Money employing varying names, accents and preferences in order to assure the sale. G-Money’s boss Bob Glasser (David Koechner, only appearing in a few fleeting scenes) ignores his bizarre behavior and flagrant dress code violations as his sales are through the roof. At a local school Godfrey’s known as Mr. G. where he volunteers as a puppeteer. Godfrey’s obviously running from or repressing something in adopting these numerous identities, but what exactly?

“The Right One” is the feature screenwriting and directorial debut of Ken Mok, co-creator of “America’s Next Top Model.” (He also produced the Mark Wahlberg football flick “Invincible” and David O. Russell’s “Joy.”) The movie’s well-meaning, but misguided. It almost feels like Mok was trying to transcribe M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” as a romantic comedy, but it’s a romantic comedy that’s lacking in both romance and comedy. The romance stalls out as Coleman and Thune – both good – don’t have palpable chemistry and the plot’s too grave to give their meet-cute any meat. The film’s funniest scene finds Thune and Koechner riffing on Blues Traveler and culminates with them playing dueling harmonicas – that’s about it for laughs. The picture’s main character may not be schizophrenic, but the flick he’s appearing in sure as shit is.

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