Casual Encounters (2016) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for strong crude sexual content, nudity and language
Running Time: 81 min.
Cast: Taran Killam, Brooklyn Decker, David Krumholtz, David Arquette, Mark Boone Junior,
Director: Zackary Adler
Screenplay: Sebastian J. Michael, Erik Steinmetz
Review published June 11, 2016
Casual Encounters is a romantic comedy that seeks to find humor within the world of hook-up online dating sites. Taran Killam (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 12 Years a Slave) stars as Justin, who we meet at the beginning of the film waking up to hear his girlfriend of five years' voice on a popular national shock-jock radio show breaking up with him after revealing she had a threesome to get back at him for forgetting their anniversary. It seems everyone he knows has heard it, and rib him mercilessly before they encourage him to get back out there and forget her by diving headfirst into casual sex. With the help of his horn-dog telecom company office friends Sammy (Krumholtz, Hail Caesar!) and Louis (Arquette, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday), Justin signs up for a one-night-stand site called "Casual Encounters". However, Justin is unprepared for the kinds of women out there looking for a quick hook-up, from those who grossly lie about their appearance, to those with devious, even dangerous, sexual appetites. Meanwhile, off-site, he becomes closer friends with his attractive co-worker Laura (Decker, Stretch), though his run-ins with the women with whom he's had casual encounters may come back to haunt him.
Casual Encounters can be seen as a bit of a throwback to the kinds of comedies they made about two decades ago, such as raunchy indies like Kevin Smith's early films (Clerks, Chasing Amy), and workplace comedies like Office Space and Waiting. It's relatively low budget production (reportedly a half-million dollars) shot in less than two weeks in 2014, but with an impressive cast of appealing character actors, including a starring role for "Saturday Night Live"'s Taran Killam. The set-up of the film, while nothing new in the world of rom-coms, has its moments, but things begin to take a slide into less savory territory once Justin enters the online dating realm, where every date is a nightmare of a sort. If you find the notion of a surprise date with a heavy-set woman (who is also an amputee), a dominatrix, and a philandering woman into "blumpies" (it's best not to ask) funny, then perhaps this is a movie aimed at you. If not, this is d-grade (and degrading) comedic material not even funny enough to make it as deleted scenes of a mostly improvised Judd Apatow comedy.
With smarmy, one-note characters, low-aiming crudeness in the writing, sets that look like they were set up in minutes, and a second half that feels slapped together from disparate scenes just to get the run time necessary to qualify as a feature film, Casual Encounters isn't going to be close to entertaining enough for most viewers looking for great performances, witty insights, or even just a cute romance. Outside of its cast, who do try their best to breathe life into their roles, the ideas behind the film crib too much from other, better works, except in a disjointed and sloppy fashion. When you spend most of the movie noticing how many times something appearing in the current shot doesn't match what you saw in the previous shot, or that words are misspelled in some of the mock-up signage around the office, you know the movie flat out isn't working.
And, for those wondering, the nudity in the film is not for Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker. However, if you're looking to see the goods from the obese amputee, you'll get your wish.
©2016 Vince Leo