A high school “Cyrano de Bergerac” in the age of tweets, texts and the romantic gravitas of a proffered “‘S’up?”
That’s “#Roxy,” a flip and funny rom-com from north of the border that, when it works, reminds us that words can woo, win or wound with their power. And that hope springs eternal for the big heart and beautiful soul, no matter how nasal the packaging.
Roxy Rostand (Sarah Fisher) is the pretty, bookish object of every boy’s desire at Bergerac High. She’s “totes” tight with her BFF Deana (Hannah Duke), even though they aren’t on the same wavelength. As in, you’re coming to the secret party tonight, right?
Can’t. “I have a date with ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge.'”
“OMG ewww. Is he like, what, 40?”
Roxy has eyes for the new boy, who looks like he fell off “Twilight” and onto the football team. That would be Christian Newville (Booboo Stewart of “The Twilight Saga”). She has no way of diplomatically showing her interest.
Surely her best boy bud, Cyrus (Jake Short), the witty, super-smart tech nerd with the gigantic schnoz can help. He’s just hack/humiliated a cruel jock at the school pep rally and the administration is on his case. And he’s had this epic, love-to-end-all-loves crush on Roxy since like forever.
“Do I LOOK like Tinder?”
But sure. He’ll be the go-between. Christian gets advice from his bud Lee (Jake Smith, a dead ringer for Jake Short, save for the nose). Whatever you do, don’t talk about Cyrus’s nose. Don’t mention it. He’s got a temper.
“C’mon, how big can it be?”
Short’s Cyrus has to hide how disappointed in Roxy he is. She has him in the friend zone because of his nose, he’s sure of it. He will do his damnedest to make her fondest wish come true, gambling that the guy she’s sized-up by virtue of his looks won’t be a jerk, will be into literature and the fine arts, mooning over poetry, just like her.
She’s into Russian lit right now, Cyrus notes. “Quote Chekhov to her!”
“The ‘Star Trek’ guy?”
He cannot believe he has to hand-hold this jock through love notes as texts (“Give me your phone!”) and woo her with his words on behalf of a himbo. His cousin and partner in pranks Bronwyn (Pippa Mackie) sums it up for him, in case he’s missed the point.
“You get to do the work, he gets to do...her.”
But he wants Roxy to be happy, wants to give her a version of himself that is smart, romantic AND handsome.
If you know “Cyrano,” you pretty much know how this goes. Sooner or later Roxy and Christian end up alone, she asks “What’re you reading right now?”
“Like, a book?”
Sure. Impress her. Well, “This one had Archie in it.”
The first laugh in “#Roxy” is seeing the high school principal, the guy who barks into the PA system to silence everybody, then barks again to get some “school SPIRIT.” He keeps a framed photo of “Machete” in his office. The principal is Danny Trejo, and he summons a giggle in every scene he’s in.
For instance, Bronwyn and Lee are engaged in an epic practical jokes battle. Principal Castillo looks at her and makes a veiled, out-of-line threat. “Are you going to finish this, or am I?” Challenge ACCEPTED.
Stewart makes an amusingly dim Romeo, who doesn’t know what to do with a girl who greets him by quoting from “Romeo and Juliet.” He’s just thinking he’ll “Hit that booty,” and all will be well.
The smart kids are forced to watch football practice, and are of course, confused.
What’s the object of this game again?
“The object of the game is to reestablish the patriarchy and identify alpha males in a social setting, such as school,” Bronwyn says.
There’s a Cusack “Say Anything” re-creation, with a garden sprinkler and a cell phone and no Peter Gabriel, and of course a LOT of nose jokes — most told by our Cyrano, Cyrus, because he’s had to live with it and he has all the best material.
“With you, it’s not nose-picking. With you its spelunking.” “That’s no nose! It’s a SPACE station!”
Short, of that kids’ comedy “Shorts” of a few years back, makes a convincing wit, standing up to bullies, defending a lady’s honor.
Fisher, a “Degrassi High” alumna like generations of Canadian actresses before her, is winsome enough, even as she’s overshadowed by everybody around her because they have all the funnier lines.
All the performances are lifted by screenwriter Tony Binns (“Truckstop Bloodsuckers”) clever dialogue, and Mackie and Jake Smith have cute chemistry largely due to his writing as well.
“#Roxy” hews a little too closely to the original “Cyrano” when it reaches a moment of violence and goes on and on beyond that in attempt to find a payoff. It’s an 85 minute movie wriggling out of a 100 minute sack in its final act.
But it turns out that Netflix isn’t making all the clever teen comedies that come out these days, even if “#Roxy” only finds its audience when it finally makes its way to the streaming service sometime next year.
MPAA Rating: unrated, a beating, mild profanity
Cast: Jake Short, Sarah Fisher, Booboo Stewart, Pippa Mackie and Danny Trejo
Credits:Directed by Michael Kennedy, script by Tony Binns. A Mosaic release.
Running time: 1:45