BIRDIE and SAM; Evan Rachel Wood and Justin Long.
(Photo : Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio)
When one thinks of a festival film, there is always thought that the movies being showcased are dramatic, dark, original or sometimes quirky. Audiences never think of a sappy romantic comedy with generic plot lines or clichéd characters and dialogue. Unfortunately "A Case of You" starring Evan Rachel Wood and Justin Long, is exactly this type of film that one does not expect to see at such a prestigious film festival like Tribeca.
The movie tells the story of Sam, a young writer who tries to impress a girl Birdie that he meets at a coffee shop. When Birdie gets fired from the shop, Sam finds her on Facebook and uses her online profile to embellish his persona. However he finds himself in a real mess when she falls for him and he has to keep up the act.
At the beginning of the film Sam tries to begin an original novel because he is bored of writing books based on movies that are already released. He is too uptight and the fact that he is called a hack does not help matters. It only gets worse when he meets an old classmate (Sienna Miller) and realizes he has not accomplished a single thing in his life. As a result, he decides to take a break from these hack books and concentrate on something different. This is when Birdie comes into play. He meets her and falls in love. However he cannot approach her because he is insecure and quite dumb. In order to be the perfect man for Birdie he decides to stalk her on Facebook and starts to learn everything she likes. He takes ballroom classes, French cuisine classes, learns judo, and takes guitar lessons. When they meet he seems like the perfect guy for her; she also winds up being his antidote as their romance inspires a novel that his publisher Alan (Vince Vaughn) claims to be the best he has ever read.
The biggest issue with the film lies in its predictability. From the start the viewer knows where this film is headed. The film doesn't even shy away from foreshadowing its plot twists; Eliot constantly warns Sam not to stick to his plan but Sam is too inexperienced to heed the warning.
Another issue in the movie is that director Kat Corio constantly shoves the themes and plot points in the viewer's facs through manipulative scenes. In one moment, Eliot's girlfriend (Busy Phillips) tells Sam that he has to compromise in order for a relationship to work. Then in another sequence, Alan reiterates the whole story for the viewer and takes apart the main character. At this point, Sam realizes what he has done incorrectly.
The movie also uses the common romantic comedy ploys such as the montage in which Sam takes lessons to become the perfect man for Birdie. The scenes make sure to employ stereotypical characters such as a guitar teacher (Sam Rockwell) who looks like he is drugged and a flamboyant gay guy (Peter Dinklage). It does not help that Sam is clumsy and his uselessness is showcased in each of the montage sequences. The result is the feeling that the screenwriters were more interested in seeing the audience laugh with cheap jokes rather than seeing something genuine.
Another issue with the film is that Eliot and his girlfriend are more interesting than the protagonists; they have more dynamic and one wants to know more about their characters. Unfortunately the writers only give a glimpse. Eliot likes to masturbate to pictures of old women while his girlfriend is a comprehensible and compromising woman. Unfortunately, the viewer is left with questions about their actions and never gets an answer. Why does he like older woman? And why does she turn a blind eye to it? It can't possibly be the whole "compromise" thing right? It can't be that easy. The viewer never gets an answer and the characters ultimately feel like plot devices.
Another major misstep is the performance of Evan Rachel Wood. Known for dramatic portrayals, Wood tries to give it her all but falls flat. She seems happy all the time. When she meets Sam the first times she is all smiles; when she goes to a prop shop she is radiant; and when Sam breaks her heart, she never truly gets to the core of her emotions. She looks... happy. However the blame is not completely on Wood; Birdie is simply a one-dimensional character that really never develops. The writers tell us that Birdie is free spirited and her parents are hippies. Other than that she just seems to roam New York City without any issues.
There are some redeeming qualities to the movie. Long has some genuine moments with Wood including a scene when he reveals his dysfunctional relationship with mother. Long's eyes begin to tear up and his voice starts to crack as if the whole subject affects him. The cameos by Vaughn and Rockwell are also quite funny even though they are over the top. There is also one gag with an old man in the ballroom classes. Every time Sam dances with Birdie, he is interrupted by the old man. By the end there is funny pay off which reverses the whole thing.
Unfortunately these qualities cannot save this truly forgettable movie. The jokes are funny but by the time one gets out of the theater they are unmemorable. The story is generic and the characters are never truly explored.