Over the years there have been many romantic comedies that tried to subvert their own genre – from When Harry Met Sally to No Strings Attached. Despite pages upon pages of wry commentary and gentle mocking of romance tropes, however, even the most meta-humorous of these romcoms have a tendency to snap back into formula by the time they reach their closing chapter. Men and women can be just friends, and they can be just friends with benefits, but not as far as Hollywood is concerned.
The number of well-known romcoms where the guy doesn’t get the girl (or vice versa) can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand, and based on the trailer it doesn’t look like Playing it Cool (formerly titled A Many Splintered Thing), a new romcom starring Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan, will be pushing the genre onto a second-hand. Evans plays a screenwriter who is trying to write a romance movie (no, really) but is hampered by the fact that he doesn’t believe in love.
That changes when Evans’ character meets a woman (Monaghan) whom he instantly falls for, but discovers that she’s already attached to a handsome fiancé (Ioan Gruffudd). Aided by a circle of friends with different perspectives on the subject of love (Anthony Mackie, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson and Topher Grace), Evans’ character attempts to stay just friends, but finds himself wanting more.
Perhaps it’s just the way that the trailer is edited which makes Playing it Cool look painfully generic – kind of like a version of They Came Together, except not intended as a joke – but aside from its leading man there’s little about this movie that really catches the eye. The trailer also appears to spoil most of the plot, making no secret of the fact that Evans and Monaghan’s characters end up getting very close. It’s possible that Playing it Cool might pull the rug out from under the audience’s feet in the same way that (500) Days of Summer did, but don’t bet on it.
Playing it Cool doesn’t look like it has much chance of breaking through the romantic comedy formula, but for those who don’t mind that formula it looks pretty serviceable for a date night movie. And if that isn’t enough to convince you to watch it, bear in mind that this is probably the only chance you’ll get to see Captain America, Falcon, Mr Fantastic and Venom all together in the same movie.
Playing it Cool does not currently have a US release date.