It’s the first or second thing they teach you in all the better “How to Script a Romantic Comedy in Nine Lessons” online courses.
Find an excuse to throw a bunch of sexually active folks together, find a cool location, introduce drinks and pot as “truth serum” and bring in a promiscuous wild card/free electron to stir stuff up.
Let hilarity and maybe a few hurt feelings (with tears) ensue. There’ve been so many big screen variations of the “Secaucus Seven/Big Chill” formula that I lost count that I lost count around the time of “Love! Valour! Compassion!” And that was way back in 1997. “About Alex,” “Peter’s Friends,” the list is endless.
“The Feels” is a slapdash lesbian entry in the field, a laugh-free roundup of seven friends for a bachelorette weekend in or around Healdsburg, in California’s Sonoma Valley wine country.
There’s a little (very little) “Bridesmaids,” and “Bachelorette” (a Kirsten Dunst flop) thrown into this “Big Chill” variation.
The novelty here is having a confession cam — or what plays like one. Characters break from the partying to sit and talk about themselves — mainly about orgasms — for some half-hearted attempt at mockumentary reality.
It’ll chiefly be remembered as the movie Constance Wu made before “Crazy Rich Asians” made her famous and possibly a bankable box office star. Wu stars as Andi, the “attractive, powerful and cool” about to marry Lu (Angela Trimbur). Five of their pals join them for this “wild” weekend in the country.
There’s Vivien (co-writer Lauren Parks) and Youtube lesbian-pop- singer Karin (Kárin Tatoyan). “Regular Helen” (Ever Mainard) is the amusingly blunt, stereotypically butch friend who shows up with a VW Microbus.
And there’s Josh (Josh Fadem of TV’s “Better Call Saul” and “30 Rock”). He’s done much of the organizing, haplessly managed the decorating (AndiLu4EVR poster), and is the one who relishes telling the disappointed Lu that her married-with-two-kids older sister Nikki (director and co-writer Jenée LaMarque) won’t be coming. Or will come. Late. And let down her sis.
Josh is a little on the bitchy side. He’s also the wild card, an Eddie Deezen in the Jeff Goldblum role, heterosexual male in the henhouse. Not quite the right casting, I have to say.
There are awkward toasts, treks to town where they are “Round, brown and ready to party down” (?), according to Helen. Lauren got off early this weekend by lying “to my boss. I told him I was having my eggs harvested this weekend.”
As asides, they have these little confessions — about their first sexual experience, in a two story house with a shiny banister, in a hot tub with frisky waterjets, etc.
Despite those “accidental” Os from puberty, it turns out one of them has never had an orgasm. Ever.
Feelings are hurt, and mended. The singer sings an improvised Lordes-ish tune. Love is all around, no need to waste it. Which is to say that the dweeby guy makes his move (moves).
And precious little happens aside from that, mainly the No Big O revelation, and everybody telling everybody else “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Every movie has the potential to speak to “its audience,” and “The Feels” is no different. But basic building blocks like entertainment value, funny lines and funnier situations, played with zest and directed with some sense of pace are dispensed with.
If you’re not inclined to grade on the curve? Slapdash.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, drug abuse, sex, nudity, profanity
Credits:Directed by Jenée LaMarque, Lauren Parks , script by Jenée LaMarque, Lauren Parks . A Gravitas/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:28