8/10 The story of a young, aimless man who lives at home with his mom, stepdad and brother trying to find himself while falling in love with a woman in a relationship, “Cha Cha Real Smooth” is an overall solid film with some authentic performances and a strong, emotional script. Writer/director Cooper Raiff also stars as the male lead and he and Dakota Johnson give fantastic performances. The supporting cast is also terrific and Raiff’s script luckily fleshes out all of the characters, giving them proper development and depth. Evan Assante plays David, younger brother to Raiff’s Andrew and their relationship is one of the best parts of the film. Despite their age difference, Andrew takes care of David, gives him advice and shows a ton of love to him, which was really sweet. The complicated relationship between Andrew and Domino (Johnson) is multi-layered and luckily takes a more realistic approach to how it plays out as opposed to one that would make audiences the most happy. The chemistry between Johnson and Raiff is strong and their back and forth banter feels genuine. The pacing works well as the movie moves along nicely, always developing a character or pushing forward the plot while not wasting any time. The soundtrack and original score compliment the film perfectly and since Andrew ends up as a bar mitzvah party host, entertaining youngsters and playing songs to party/dance to, the music is an integral part of the film (hence even naming the film after a song). Luckily the production aspects, while nothing complicated, get the job done. As far as minor complaints go, we have seen a ton of movies in the genre of “young man/woman isn’t getting the most out of life as they wander aimlessly, trying to find themselves” so as much as the script is well written, the basic premise is nothing original. Despite his fine performance, I have never been a huge fan of writer/directors acting in their own films because it feels like more of a distraction or that certain scenes are specifically tailored so the actor can make out with the hot chick, be the hero, etc. A writer acting in their own film always has a tint of bias to it and I don’t enjoy that even when some of the best directors in Hollywood do it (Quentin Tarantino, M. Night Shyamalan) because it can feel egotistical and/or self indulgent. That being said, overall this is still a strong film from Raiff that will automatically make me check out whatever his next film may be. Filled with laughter, sorrow and most importantly, heart…“Cha Cha Real Smooth” is a…really smooth film that blends realism of love and family with life’s struggles.

#RaisingTheBarMitzvah / #FiftyShadesOfDreidel / #JewTheRightThing / #TheDominoEffect / #TheBabysittersSnub / #HowToBeSingle2

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