Office romances, especially those between boss and employee, have made a a rapid transition from “frowned upon” by HR to repellant and condemnable in the “#MeToo” era. They’re positively fraught, these days.
Thus, the misfortune that is “Can You Keep a Secret?” It was never going to be all that funny and romantic. But showing up at this point in time, this wan rom-com should give anybody pause before buying the rights to further works by British novelist Sophie Kinsella. She did “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” and if she isn’t setting back feminism with every trip to the keyboard, her work is certainly aging poorly.
Alexandra Daddario of “Baywatch” plays Emma, a young marketing exec who tumbles for the founder of her organic health food/drink company AFTER drunkenly spilling her guts to him as her fellow passenger on a flight she was sure was doomed. DOOMED.
Just turbulence, dear.
Her panicked confession? She’s too young to die. She’s never gotten a tattoo, never had kids, and “I don’t even KNOW that I have a G-spot!” “I wish I could pee, standing up!” And “I don’t think I’ve ever been in love, or been loved!”
That’s a lot to unload on a stranger, who turns out to be your boss’s boss when he shows up at the office the next day.
Jack (Tyler Hoechlin, who is Clark Kent on TV’s “Flash” and “Arrow”) proceeds to use info from that confession to re-arrange the power structure in that office, and to finish off her relationship to the quite-effeminate Connor (David Ebert).
We might not notice that power imbalance so much if they had real chemistry, if Daddario’s bubbly klutz act was matched with something other than humorless hunkiness and nearly-charmless stubble.
Several people in the story have “secrets” — a lawyer-roommate (Sunita Mani) who seems to be bedding a lot of guys from the office, the boss (Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black”) who might not have told anybody she used to identify as male.
Nothing much is made of any of these characters or their secrets. The workplace is a parade of inappropriately public conversations, sleep-with-the-boss shaming, an HR nightmare that isn’t a funny nightmare.
Daddario mugs a bit, takes her best shot at “perky” and “clumsy” and “cute” and never completely gives up on the script, or lets us see that she has. She’s almost all alone in this regard.
There’s almost always a spark in such movies, usually provided with the one supporting player who finds room to be funny. Here, it comes from Kimiko Glenn, who plays the cynical, man-wise, hustlerwear roomie, Gemma.
Gemma has the few funny lines. “You need to get even. I know a guy…” And coaching Emma on the phone, “Yes, bitch! Step into your POWER!”
Glenn is all alone in giggleland in “Can You Keep a Secret?”
And just when you give up on the intended comedy ever coming together, it dives into something edgier. But that flip-flop is only a tease for a movie that never was, and probably never was going to be funnier than the one they ended up making, which is as charmless as it is laughless.
MPAA Rating: unrated, sexual situations, profanity, alcohol abuse
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Tyler Hoechin, Sunita Mani and Laverne Cox
Credits: Directed by Elise Duran, script by Peter Hutchings, based on a Sophie Kinsella novel.
Credits: A Vertical release.
Running time: 1:34