"The Broken Hearts Gallery" is sticking to its guns and will be hitting theaters - not streaming - when it is released on September 11th. Because of that, this Selena Gomez-produced romantic-comedy is really one of the first comedic films aimed at this audience to hit the big-screen all year...and despite thinking that it was a contrived, mostly unfunny mess of a movie...I have a feeling that the target-aged audience might strongly disagree with my assessment.
Yes, at age 41, "The Broken Hearts Club Gallery" was the first film in quite awhile that made me feel old...or at least much older than the movie's intended audience. The romantic-comedy genre - young adult especially - is a tough nut to crack, the best of which are films that appeal both to that specific target demographic and older folks who can relate to the universal struggles of finding, falling-in and losing love in a relationship. In addition, they tend to be well-written and provide a new take or a fresh angle on the age-old struggle of finding one's "soul mate."
This film, at best, will generally appeal to young adults. At worst, it is a rom-com full of contrivances, and a central protagonist who is so snarky that it's not only a wonder how she could attract a hunky beau, but also how the audience could root for her.
Don't get me wrong, star Geraldine Viswanathan is a super-talented comic actress, full of talent and charm. Her character here though, Lucy, I found to be abrasive and annoying. Only Groucho Marx is given more one-liners, for every line of dialogue. And there I go again, showing my age, making a Groucho Marx reference in the middle of a young adult rom-com review.
Lucy is flanked by her two best friends, Amanda (Molly Gordon) and Nadine (Phillipa Soo). I'm a HUGE fan of both Gordon and Soo...the former leaving a big mark on me from the Hulu series, "Ramy," and the latter as having given the most unforgettable performances of a generation as Eliza Hamilton in "Hamilton." Look...Viswanathan, Gordon and Soo are three of the most talented actresses currently going, with futures that know no limits. But here, Amanda and Nadine are just clichéd accomplices, with one giving tough love and the other a more progressive and wild. They are the angel and devil on Lucy's shoulders, one providing encouragement and the other providing small doses of reality.
Anyways, Lucy is somewhat of a hoarder, and she has held on to items and trinkets from every one of her past relationships. She meets Nick (Dacre Montgomery) when she drunkenly mistakes his car for a Lyft driver and hops right in it, and falls for him...eventually. Along the way, she invents something called The Broken Hearts Gallery, a shrine of sorts where people can "unload" their physical and emotional baggage, and it inspires scorned souls from all over the city to participate.
Sadly, "The Broken Hearts Gallery" doesn't provide the correct canvas to paint Lucy as anything other than a two-dimensional character. Everybody in the film exists as stereotypical characters you'd find in any old romantic-comedy, and writer/director Natalie Krinsky doesn't lead us anywhere new. So all we're really left with is: Was this movie funny enough? Surely, a good comedy tends to make the audience overlook structural issues with the script or the character development.
The answer to that question is: No, I didn't find "The Broken Hearts Gallery" to be funny. At all. Oh, it tries to be, and it certainly has an air of confidence and attitude. But just because I didn't find it to be funny doesn't mean that you won't. I just think the only chance of that happening is if you would describe age 30 as being old, or if this happened to be the first romantic-comedy you've ever seen. Otherwise, it's best to just let this one go and move on with your life.
Genre: Romance, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 48 minutes.
Starring: Geraldine Viswanathan, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo, Dacre Montgomery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Ego Nwodim.
Written and Directed by Natalie Krinsky (feature-film directorial debut, has previously written for TV on series like "Gossip Girl," "Grey's Anatomy" and "90210.")
"The Broken Hearts Gallery" is available in theaters on Friday, September 11th, 2020.
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